IBC2013 Q&A: Andrew Page, Senior Product Manager, Professional Multi-Display & Video, NVIDIA

The horsepower offered by GPUs has transformed sports production, and that’s likely to continue as rightsholders make the transition to 1080p, 4K, and beyond. As a result, NVIDIA is in an enviable situation as a longtime GPU stalwart.

At IBC this year, NVIDIA focused on two new products: its QUADRO K6000 GPU and its GRID cloud-based, virtualized graphics-creation system. According to NVIDIA, the QUADRO K6000, unveiled at NAB, provides twice the memory (12 GB), five times the computing power, and 1.7 times the graphics power of its predecessor. The K6000 was demonstrated at the show in HP and Dell 4K workflows.

The NVIDIA GRID VCA (visual computing appliance) allows up to eight users to share the same appliance with workstation performance and QUADRO compatibility. The GPU enables multiple users to share a single GPU and allows client computers — off-the-shelf PC, Mac OS X, or Linux systems with no special GPU or CPU — to access creative tools from Adobe, Autodesk and, as announced at the show, Vizrt (Viz Artist).

SVG sat down with  Andrew Page, senior product manager, Professional Multi-Display & Video, to discuss what role NVIDIA — and the GPU — will play in the future.

The 4K-production ecosystem has many holes left to fill. How can NVIDIA and its GPU technology fill those disconnects between 4K capture and display?
We’ve been driving 4K displays and projects for the better part of eight years:  automotive styling and design, oil and gas exploration, and so on. We have a lot of experience. All of our GPUs are 4K-capable and have been for quite a while.

But you are right: a GPU is the way to solve a lot of those problems with 4K. As you look at everything from content creation to transcoding and much more, we have partners that are adding GPUs to do all that faster and easier. Elemental is showing GPU-accelerated 4K encoding and transcoding. The GPU is plugging a lot of those holes in 4K, and I think you will see even more partners pop up because they simply make the jump from HD to 4K by adding more CPU cores. You have to add an accelerator to those CPU cores, and that is where the GPU comes in.

How do you see the GPU playing a role in the continued evolution of sports production and the need to handle more data than ever faster than ever?
The underlying thread of the industry is constant evolution — from SD to HD to 1080p to 4K to even 8K. Every one of those steps exponentially grows the data needed, so there has been an explosion in the size of the data and amount of processing that needs to be done to keep these workflows going. As a result, people need to change their architecture and rethink how they do things, and the GPU is where that is playing out.

The new QUADRO K 6000 GPU, which we’re showing for the first time in Europe, is the fastest, biggest-memory pro GPU on the market today. We believe it is going to go a long way in easing people’s transition to 4K.

Can you speak to how NVIDIA is looking towards cloud-based products and how the GPU fits into that?
In addition to the discrete GPUs we provide, we are taking the GPU and moving it out of the workstation on your desk and into the data center with GRID. Our GRID VCA  is an NVIDIA product and standalone system with eight GPUs and all the virtualization and remoting software necessary so that a MacBook Pro or Windows or Linux or Mac client can start up a session and do the work on almost any [creative tool].

They can start up a session and do their work and access things like Adobe Creative tools or Viz Artist — a partnership we announced here at the show. So, for companies using Viz Artist to create broadcast graphics, this is an easy way for the artist to get access to the tools regardless of what platform they’re using.

For example, Viz doesn’t have a Mac version of Artist, but we can run it on a MacBook Pro at 60 fps coming from the GRID server. All the graphics and processing are being done in the GRID server: an H.264 stream is being encoded on the GPU, sent over the wire, and then decoded on a MacBook Pro. It’s a way of bringing the GPU into the creative groups and providing them with a rich, easy set of tools to work with.