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Nvidia kicks out CUDA 3.1 for GPUs

Parallel Nsight plug-in for Visual Studio, too

The CUDA ecosystem is building nicely, says Sanford Russell, general manager of GPU software products at Nvidia. The company has shipped over 200 million CUDA-capable GPUs. Over 600,000 CUDA SDKs have been downloaded, and there are around 100,000 active GPU developers as best Nvidia can figure. There were over 8,000 beta testers for the Parallel Nsight plug-in for Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE, and 350 universities and colleges worldwide as using CUDA in their parallel programming coursework.

With Parallel Nsight, Nvidia has taken a bunch of tools for GPU computing and graphics processing that were standalone tools and packaged them up so they can plug into Microsoft's Visual Studio 2008 IDE and have the same look and feel for GPU cores, memory, and applications that a development workstation's CPU, memory, and code does inside of Visual Studio.

Parallel Nsight 1.0 will come in two versions. The Standard Edition, which includes a graphics debugger and a graphics inspector, is available starting today for free. The graphics debugger can debug Microsoft's HLSL graphics shading language right on the GPU as it is running, and examine how shaders are executing in parallel on the GPU. The graphics inspector does real-time examination of DirectX calls and the GPU pipeline state as applications step through their code. It also has a pixel history function to show how each operation in the application affects any pixel on the screen. The Standard Edition of Parallel Nsight can work on a standalone desktop or laptop.

The Professional Edition adds in parallel debuggers for compute, a system analyzer, premium support, and volume licensing. The parallel debugger allows coders working within Visual Studio to debug compute kernels right on the GPU hardware. (You'll need two GPUs to do this - one to run your display and one to debug the code.) The debugger will allow programmers to look at thousands of threads executing in parallel at the same time and use conditional breakpoints to fix their bugs. The system analyzer allows Visual Studio to show programmers what is going on inside the CPUs and GPUs on a timeline as code runs to help them fix and tune code. Parallel Nsight also has a remote debugging option, which allows developers working remotely from their machines to debug machines over the Internet from their workstation or laptop. The Professional Edition is a release candidate now, and will cost $349 per seat when it starts shipping in the next couple of months.

Both editions of Parallel Nsight run on Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows HPC Server 2008. At the moment, the plug-in only works with Visual Studio 2008 SP1. Support for Visual Studio 2010 is coming in the fourth quarter. The plug-in will work on Quadro G9X discrete graphics cards and higher and Tesla C1050/1070 GPUs and higher. ®

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