Cubix Visual & GPU Compute Solutions releases new GPU Compute products for photorealistic 3D rendering and transcoding markets

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Nevada-based PC systems manufacturer, who pioneered blade computing technologies in the 1980s and '90s, tells customers to "Xpand" their current PC or Mac Pro workstations instead of replacing or building new ones. Price points designed to cause disruptions in several niche PC markets.

"We had ten NVIDIA CUDA-enabled graphics cards running multiple Octane Render files simultaneously on one dual processor motherboard last week"

Cubix Visual & GPU Compute Solutions (http://www.cubixgpu.com), a new division of blade computing pioneer Cubix Corporation, releases the first of its new GPU-Xpander products developed for various general purpose GPU (GPGPU) compute markets. Xpander for Octane Render is an external graphics host device featuring between 1-4 high performance, discrete NVIDIA CUDA-enabled graphics cards or GPU cards. Xpander for Octane Render, like all GPU-Xpander products, connects externally next to any PC or Apple Mac Pro with PCI Express 2.0 slots, and is tuned specifically for Refractive Software's revolutionary Octane Render, the world's first fully GPU-enabled, unbiased physically-based renderer.

What does this mean for 3D graphics niche markets such as rendering? According to Cubix Visual, it means the ability to add more computing cores to a user's current PC or Mac workstation than any other hardware solution available. In other words, used with Refractive Software's Octane Render, users gain the capability to render much larger photorealistic images at higher resolutions in a fraction of the time (and cost) it would take dozens of dual Quad Core Xeon workstations to produce the same pictures or animation frames. Add more NVIDIA CUDA-enabled graphics cards, and performance scales up linearly.

What's Cubix Visual's key part in all of this? Xpander for Octane Render becomes a PCI Express slot-multiplier, doubling the number of full-sized double-width PCI Express slots using the customer's current PC or Mac Pro workstation. Most Octane Render users' options for adding more high-performance NVIDIA GPUs to their current hardware are limited by the number of available slots, physical space within their workstations, or inadequate power supply capacity. Cubix solves these problems by going external.

"We had ten NVIDIA CUDA-enabled graphics cards running multiple Octane Render files simultaneously on one dual processor motherboard last week," says Eric Fiegehen, Director of Cubix's Visual & GPU Compute Solutions division. "And we even had one or two PCI Express slots left over. We'll have to try and really push the envelope next time with 11 or 12 graphics cards on one workstation", Fiegehen says with a smile.

Cubix Visual & GPU Compute Solutions, and the 3D visual rendering markets it serves, have ample cause to smile. The ability to scale performance linearly with 8+ NVIDIA graphics cards on one workstation may be unmatched in the industry, and is likely to cause some industry-wide disruptions. Providing customers with the ability to either augment or replace hundreds of CPU-based render nodes with a few Xpander for Octane Render boxes changes the economics of the industry. Cubix Visual and Refractive Software are pushing unbiased physically-based render standards up, while dropping price-per-core to a mere fraction of current, state-of-the-art CPU renderers.

As if to emphasize their intentions about competing in this market, Fiegehen explained that Xpander for Octane Render prices start at less than $1000 for a system including NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260, base unit auto-ranging power supply, PCIe data cable, and PCIe adapter.
"With Octane Render proof of purchase, we can supply a deskside Xpander unit fully loaded with two GeForce GTX 480 cards for under $2000."

Laptop PC and MacBook Pro users need not feel left-out either. Cubix Visual is manufacturing another version of the product, GPU-Xpander with ExpressCard, targeted at mobile computing applications including Octane Render, game development, mobile cinema and broadcast production, post-production, Non-Linear Editing (NLE), pro audio capture, and other I/O-based applications which can benefit from ExpressCard 34/54 single-channel PCIe connections.

For larger customers, Cubix Visual will be shipping a modular 19" rackmount version called GPU-Xpander Rackmount which supports between 1-4 workstations, and up to 8 NVIDIA GeForce GTX, Tesla, or Quadro FX Series cards per chassis. A 19" rackmount blade workstation product will follow in June called XpanderBlade.

"While we're just getting started in the GPU Compute markets, Cubix has a long history of pioneering remote graphics hardware technologies, some of which will be added to the GPU-Xpander product line", added Fiegehen, "We're going to be introducing many more features and options over the next several months."

One of the more immediate options available will be a 16-channel PCIe 2.0 solution for supporting applications which create a lot of PCIe bus traffic. This option will be available by the first half of June, but pricing was not available as of press time.

However, value seems to be the key feature when it comes to Cubix Visual's new product line. "Whether you're a consumer or a professional in the markets we serve, the hardware options for jumping into GPU Compute have been limited. Most people have bought new workstations or servers, others have built brand new systems from the ground up. We say just "Xpand" your current PC or Mac's slots and watts."

Cubix Visual & GPU Compute Solutions will be exhibiting at SIGGRAPH 2010 in Los Angeles July 27th-29th at the Los Angeles Convention Center, booth no. 1126. Xpander for Octane Render is available now online at http://www.cubixgpu.com/products/Octane, or contact the sales department, sales(at)cubixgpu(dot)com

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