Nvidia Teases Fermi GPU, Mobile Technology at CES

Officials with GPU maker Nvidia are saying that a GeForce graphics chip based on the company's upcoming "Fermi" architecture could make an appearance at CES this week. They also imply that a new mobile technology, dubbed "Optimus," could be discussed at the show, though more details are expected in February. The Optimus technology is due out in the first quarter.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia is making a lot of promises around the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, but is not releasing many details.

On its Facebook site, Nvidia officials say they will show off a GeForce GPU based on the company's new "Fermi" architecture, which Nvidia unveiled last year.

Nvidia also may talk about a new mobile technology, called "Optimus," which the company will introduce sometime this quarter. That was unveiled in a blog post Jan 5, with essentially no details.

CES will run Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Regarding the newest GeForce, Nvidia wrote:

""Happy New Year to all GeForce Fans!!! Oh, and there will be a sneak peek of GF100 at our booth at CES in Las Vegas next week. Stop by and say hi!""

However, it's still unclear exactly what Nvidia will be demonstrating at CES.

Fermi is Nvidia's latest step in pushing its GPUs into the mainstream computing arena, a move that is also being made by rival Advanced Micro Devices with its ATI business. Demand for greater graphics capabilities is moving out of such traditional realms as gaming and into high-end HPC (high-performance computing) environments.

The Fermi architecture will offer up to 3 billion transistors and 512 CUDA cores, and will be incorporated into Nvidia's GeForce, Quadro and Tesla GPU lines. It also will support Microsoft's new DirectX11 architecture.

At the Supercomputing show in November, Nvidia announced the Fermi-based Tesla 20 series of GPUs, which officials say will offer the performance of traditional CPU-based clusters at a 10th of the cost and a 20th of the power.

Fermi originally was due out in November, but has been delayed until the first quarter of 2010.

Businesses and consumers also are looking for it in their PCs, according to Nvidia and AMD. AMD on Jan. 4 introduced its Vision Pro platform for business PCs that includes strong graphics capabilities.

Regarding the Optimus mobile technology, Nvidia was even less forthcoming. According to the blog, Optimus is unique to Nvidia and works on notebooks that run the company's GPUs.

In the blog, Nvidia wrote:

""Its purpose is to optimize the mobile experience by letting the user get the performance of discrete graphics from a notebook while still delivering great battery life.""

More details will be released in February, according to Nvidia.