Ever since I first moved a turtle around the screen with Logo at an OMSI science class, I've been fascinated by technology. From Logo to BASIC to Pascal to Object-Oriented Pascal (yep, Brown used to use OOP as it's entry-level class CS15 programming language!), I've enjoyed watching computers evolve from frustrating devices with non-intuitive interfaces that managed to crash JUST before you hit Ctrl-S to the connected communication tools they are today. As an aside, this love of technology greatly disappointed my mother, who wanted all her boys to be writers -- I'm sad to say that all three of us have disappointed her at this point (although I'm sure she's holding out hope that there is still time for Eli to see the light!). Over the past few years, however, from a user standpoint it felt like the evolution has slowed down a bit. Who hasn't bought a new computer -- loaded with a fast CPU, tons of memory, big hard drive -- and booted Word ... and waited. And waited. Computers don't seem much faster today than they did a few years ago, despite sporting user interfaces that haven't changed much since the mid-90s. One of the great things about working at Elemental is that the platform we are developing for, the GPU, has the potential to change all that. The massive parallelism -- hundreds of processors -- in the architecture redefines what is possible for desktop and notebook computers. We think our Badaboom Media Converter is one great example of next-generation apps powered by the GPU, which will make it much easier for consumers to format their media. The RapiHD Accelerator for Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 will be similarly disruptive for video editing workflows. Another great example is the Piclens GPU-powered image viewing technology from the folks at Cooliris. After seeing image galleries rendered with Piclens, you won't ever want to browse a directory structure again. The hardware side of the GPU world is equally dynamic these days. While NVIDIA has been leading the charge in visual computing for several years now, AMD and Intel are showing renewed interest in the category. Last week there were several announcements from these two heavyweights:
- Intel announced additional technical details on the Larrabee architecture. They also presented an overview of the chip at this week's SIGGRAPH show in Los Angeles. Larrabee will be a many-core x86-based GPU, with a radically different architecture than current GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD/ATI. Although Larrabee won't be available until 2009, these tantalizing early morsels are exciting to see from the CPU king.
- AMD released it's next generation GPU, the R770. With 800 stream processors, this chip has 956M transistors on it -- and with the 4870 x2 card, there are two of these chips on one card! While this appears to be a very competitive card for gamers, until OpenCL is more widely available it will be difficult to take advantage of this line of cards for general-purpose GPU (GPGPU) programming. For an in-depth look at the latest AMD GPUs, take a look at the thorough reviews on Anandtech.
As should be clear by now, it's a very exciting time to be a player in the visual computing ecosystem. There is tremendous competion driving architectural innovation and reasonable pricing. The computational horsepower available is enabling killer new software applications. GPU-based computing is a disruptive technology that has the potential to redefine the user experience for all of us!
Elemental is going to be at a variety of upcoming trade shows over the next few months. This is a great opportunity to see the software in action as well as meet the team behind the technology. If you are attending any of the following shows please make sure to stop by and say hi. More details are also on our news site here. If you'd like to set up an appointment to visit the booth, please email our accounts team using the contact form.
- SIGGRAPH 2008, August 12th - 14th, Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA
- Booth #554
- NVISION 2008, August 25th - 27th, San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, CA
- Booth #230
- IBC 2008, September 11th - 16th, RAI Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Booth #TBD
- Interbee 2008, November 19th - 21st, International Conference Hall, Chiba, Japan
- Booth #TBD
Many of you who read this blog loyally have complained recently that it's not being updated enough. Well, there's been a good reason for that: here at ETI HQ we've not only been focused on delivering the Badaboom™ Media Converter and RapiHD™ Accelerator for Adobe Premiere® Pro, we've been working on getting the capital base underneath Elemental solidified. Today I'm very happy to announce that we have closed our Series A financing round, bringing in two top-flight VCs and $7.1M to help us deliver on the promise of massively parallel computing. Check out the press release here. The two we selected (ok, maybe they selected us as well :) ) were General Catalyst Partners, based in Boston, MA; and Voyager Capital, based in Seattle, WA. The capital will fuel our growth, but more importantly we are thrilled to have Neil Sequeira from GC and Erik Benson from Voyager joining our board of directors. Neil has deep domain expertise in the Internet media space, and Erik is one of the smartest, best connected VCs in the Pacific Northwest. I have no doubt they will help Elemental achieve great things. Speaking of which, they have already added value by helping us flesh out our board of directors. Along with Neil and Erik, Frank Gill has joined the board. A former Executive Vice President at Intel Corporation, Frank provides a shot in the arm to our marketing, sales, and business development acumen. Bob Greenberg from the Oregon Angel Fund will remain on the board, providing deep technical insight. And Bruce Chizen, most recently CEO of Adobe Systems, will join the board in an observer capacity. Under Bruce's leadership, Adobe build tremendously innovative technologies including Flash and Acrobat; we are looking forward to following in the footsteps with RapiHD. Finally, Roy Coppinger will transition off the board into an advisory role. Roy has been with us at Elemental since day 1 -- actually, since day negative 30 or so -- and we wouldn't be where we are today without his patient counsel. Thanks for all your hard work, Roy! We are excited to begin the next chapter in Elemental's story. And I promise that the blog will be updated more frequently from now on.