Nvidia Unveils RealityServer for Photorealistic 3D Streaming

Nvidia and its subsidiary Mental Images combined their technologies to introduce RealityServer, a product designed to enable the fast, accurate streaming of photorealistic 3D images to any Web-connected device, including laptops, netbooks and smartphones. The offering combines the strengths of Nvidia's GPUs with Mental Images' rendering software.

Nvidia is taking its graphics processing technology into the cloud.

At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco Oct. 20, Nvidia and its subsidiary Mental Images introduced the Nvidia RealityServer, a combination of GPU computing and streaming software that is designed to bring interactive, photorealistic 3D applications to any Internet-connected device, including PCs, netbooks and smartphones.

The RealityServer will enable developers to create 3D Web applications for both enterprises and consumers that will offer a high level of realism, according to Nvidia officials.

The officials used as examples an automobile engineering team that will be able to get and share complex 3D models of cars in a variety of different environments, architects and clients who will be able to collaborate around sophisticated models, and online shoppers who will be able to use applications to interactively design rooms, including arranging furniture and seeing drapery fabrics.

"This is one giant leap closer to the goal of real-time photorealistic visual computing for the masses," Nvidia Senior Vice President Dan Vivoli said in a statement.

The RealityServer, which will be available Nov. 30, is a combination of Nvidia's Tesla RS GPU-based server running RealityServer software from Mental Images.

The software leverages Mental Images' iray technology, a correct ray-tracing renderer that uses the massively parallel CUDA architecture in Nvidia's GPUs to create the photorealistic images by simulating the physics of light as it interacts with matter.

Together, the RealityServer software and Nvidia GPU enable the RealityServer to stream these photorealistic images at a speed similar to an interactive game, according officials with both companies.

Tesla RS configurations start at eight GPUs, and can scale from there. The developer edition of RealityServer 3.0 will be available for free download Nov. 30.

The new offering comes at a time when Nvidia is facing stiff competition from chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, which is pushing its GPU technology acquired from its 2006 purchase of ATI into more mainstream computing areas. AMD officials in May announced they were combining their CPU and GPU businesses, a move they said would help differentiate their offerings from both Intel and Nvidia.