We are very excited here at NVIDIA today, because the fact that Windows 7 has hit the RTM milestone means we are on the doorstep of the launch of the first Windows operating system to treat the graphics processing unit (GPU) as a real peer to the CPU.
The model for The Windows 7 PC is to use a CPU and GPU together in a heterogeneous computing platform. Previously, GPUs were almost exclusively limited to rendering and accelerating graphics and video. With the introduction of Windows 7, the GPU and CPU will exist in a co-processing environment where each can handle the computing task they are best suited for. The CPU is exceptionally good at performing sequential calculations, I/O, and program flow, whereas the GPU is perfectly suited for performing massive parallel calculations. With the introduction of DirectX Compute in Windows 7, Microsoft is really opening up the immense parallel computing horsepower of the GPU natively right in the operating system.
So what does this mean to you and why should you be excited about Windows 7?
It means that soon you will be able to purchase a Windows 7 PC or upgrade your existing Windows Vista or Windows XP PC to Windows 7, we recommend adding an NVIDIA GPU if you don’t already own one. Applications written to take advantage of Windows 7 DirectX Compute will be able to provide high-quality video playback and high performance transcoding, enabling new media scenarios and extended control over your media library. In this scenario, your PC will be faster and more responsive when you are doing the tasks you want it to do.
As an example of the real world benefits of DX Compute, you will be able to use the massive parallel capabilities of the GPU to significantly reduce the time it takes to manage your media files compared with just using the CPU alone. With new software designed to take advantage of this capability you would be able to copy and transcode (convert a video from one format to another – a very computationally intensive task) a movie to your MTP supported portable media device up to 5 times faster when using the GPU as a co-processor with DX Compute, as compared to only doing the processing on the CPU.
If you enjoy watching movies, you’ll find that Windows 7 introduces a new version of Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center which add in-the-box support for GPU-accelerated high definition playback of any H.264 video content. This will give you the best smooth, stutter-free movie playback with lower CPU utilization, freeing up the CPU to focus on other tasks or to save power.
For the gamers, Windows 7 will provide the best gaming performance of any Windows operating system and will support SLI (multi-GPU gaming), 3D Vision and PhysX on day 1.
Parallel programming is the next big thing for the world of computing – it has started already. DirectX Compute will accelerate this discontinuity by enabling massive parallelism to the masses. What we are talking about is co-processing— essentially using the right tool for the job.
We hope you’ll be there with us on October 22nd to experience the next generation of GPU-powered media and gaming with Windows 7 and we look forward to working with Microsoft to deliver on the highest quality Windows release ever.
Product Manager for Software at NVIDIA