Chipmaker Digging Hole for Itself

Dennis Faas's picture

Maybe they're just getting a little older at Nvidia.

The company that carved out a name for itself in the video game market is now switching gears, producing a new line of super-powerful graphics chips for use by geoscientists and molecular biologists.

Until now, Nvidia has made its fortune as the graphical muscle behind consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation 3. The incredible sunsets that peak over canyon horizons in Motorstorm may be credited to Nvidia's hard work and impressive technology. (Source:

It only makes sense that they'd bring these tools into the scientific world. Nvidia's new chips are called Tesla, forming a graphical processing unit, or GPU, with 128 parallel processors capable of 518 gigaflops of parallel computation.

That kind of power is expected to drastically reduce the research time of scientists in the field. According to Nvidia's president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, "They will be able to do simulations in days, not months, seconds, not minutes." (Source:

Although uses will undoubtedly include some based in medicine, the most lucrative may be in oil. Yes, black gold, where more powerful processors are demanded all the time in order to more accurately read seismic data.

Tesla can make sure companies like Headwave, who analyze potential drilling locations, don't come up empty. "If it costs you $150 million to drill a hole, you don't want a dry hole," said Headwave vice president Steve Briggs. (Source:

Sounds like good reasoning to me. But, will science prove a bottomless pit for a company accustomed to entertaining teenagers?

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