NVIDIA just cranked up its highest-end Quadro graphics cards a notch or two, rolling out three products, the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4600, Quadro FX 5600 (pictured above), and NVIDIA Quadro Plex VCS Model IV that the company says represents the biggest leap in performance for its graphics cards yet. One giant leap indeed, because these parallel processing monsters have the rough equivalent of 128 1.35GHz processors cranking away at graphics in a whole new way.


These cards have more circuitry than ever, with three quarters of a billion transistors on board, and NVIDIA says not only can they display larger graphics faster than ever but use a concept called GP-GPU, allowing general-purpose programs to run on the GPU instead of the CPU.

Sharing some of the same technology with NVIDIA's GeForce 8 series of consumer cards released last November, these cards are aimed at high-end film effects artists and oil and gas explorers, and maybe a few absolutely fanatic gamers. More info, pics and pricing, plus a tantalizing hint from NVIDIA about Apple's interest in this technology, after the jump.


These cards have a brand-new GPU architecture on board, representing a brand new approach to graphics, where NVIDIA goes away from the pipeline model and into parallel processing.

Jeff Brown, General Manager, Professional Solutions Group at NVIDIA told us these new cards were four years in the making, and that NVIDIA spent half a billion dollars putting together this technology. He also gave us what might be a hint at what Apple has to show at NAB in April with its rumored workstations that are geared toward professional video editors and effects artists.


Said Brown, "Image processing is the fundamental algorithm set that video editing guys use, and traditionally that has been very CPU-centric, and now we're starting to see more and more image processing moving to the GPU. So folks like Adobe, Apple, Avid are excited about this concept. It gives them much, much higher levels of performance."

Expect to see those video editing giants, Adobe, Apple, and Avid, taking advantage of these graphics cards, perhaps showing systems involving the technology at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in mid-April. We'll be there to see what happens.

Meanwhile, these graphics cards aren't cheap, where the Quadro FX 4600 will retail for $1995, and the Quadro FX 5600 will run $2999. NVIDIA didn't say what its highest-end Quadro Plex VCS model IV will cost.


Press Release:

New Quadro Solutions Launch with Advanced Features Including: Unified Architecture, Shader Model 4.0, and GPU Computing for Visualization

SANTA CLARA, CA—MARCH 5, 2007—NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processor technologies, today unveiled a new line of professional graphics solutions: NVIDIA Quadro FX 4600, Quadro FX 5600, and NVIDIA Quadro Plex VCS Model IV. Armed with the largest increase in GPU power and functionality to date, these solutions are designed to help solve the world's most complex professional graphics challenges.


Tackling the extreme visualization challenges of the automotive styling and design, oil and gas exploration, medical imaging, visual simulation and training, scientific research, and advanced visual effects industries, these new Quadro solutions offer:

Next-Generation Vertex and Pixel Programmability—Shader Model 4.0 enables a higher level of performance and ultra-realistic effects for OpenGL and DirectX 10 professional applications

Largest Frame Buffers—Up to 1.5 GB frame buffers deliver throughput needed for interactive visualization and real-time processing of large textures and frames, enabling the superior quality and resolution for full-scene antialiasing (FSAA)


New Unified Architecture—Industry-first unified architecture capable of dynamically allocating compute, geometry, shading and pixel processing power for optimized GPU performance

GPU Computing for Visualization—Featuring NVIDIA CUDA technology, developers are, for the first time, able to tap into Quadro's high-performance computing power to solve complex, visualization problems

"Today's cutting-edge gaming and film experiences are built around tremendous 3D imagery. Designing this content requires high quality real-time feedback regardless of complexity," said Bill Roberts, director of product management at Softimage Co. "NVIDIA's support of shader Model 4.0 combined with the real-time shader architecture of SOFTIMAGE|XSI allows game developers to quickly create advanced visual effects for the Microsoft Vista OS by providing the most accurate visual feedback. Also the massively scalable visual compute power provided by CUDA is what fuels modern software architectures like SOFTIMAGE|XSI and Face Robot, built on our unique Gigapolygon core, which are inherently designed to take advantage of parallel computing power."


Additional features in the new Quadro solutions include faster 3D texturing and massive 8Kx8K texture processing for better performance when zooming and panning of high-resolution images; NVIDIA® SLI™ technology for improved graphics performance; dual dual-link display connectivity; and NVIDIA® PureVideo™ technology for outstanding picture clarity, smooth video playback, and accurate color and precise image scaling for SD and HD content. NVIDIA GSync and HD SDI options are also offered.

"We bundle NVIDIA Quadro solutions with our kernel technology to accelerate simulations in the electromagnetic and energy markets," says Ryan Schneider, CTO for Acceleware Corp. "The CUDA SDK exposes an exciting new compute model that will help Acceleware to continue to make our products faster each year. This will also help our customers, including major cell phone and medical device designers, get their products to market faster, better and stronger."

NVIDIA Quadro solutions are widely available through leading OEMs such as HP, Dell, IBM, and Sun; leading workstation system integrators; and NVIDIA channel partners PNY Technologies (US and EMEA), Leadtek (APAC) and Elsa (Japan). For more information about the full lineup of NVIDIA professional solutions, please visit www.nvidia.com/quadro. The Quadro FX 4600 has a MSRP of $1995 and the Quadro FX 5600 has an MSRP of $2999.


NVIDIA Corporation
NVIDIA Corporation is the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processor technologies. The Company creates innovative, industry-changing products for computing, consumer electronics, and mobile devices. NVIDIA is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA and has offices throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. For more information, visit www.nvidia.com.