Enterprise, Graphics, Hardware

NEXTCOMputing: The destroyer of notebooks?

Notebooks are all around us, but what if the power provided by the best one isn’t good enough? How about a portable dual-socket, dual-GPU, single, dual or triple display beast? On GPU Technology Conference we were introduced to NEXTCOMputing, a company based in New Hampshire. Speaking with Ed Caracappa, we were given a low-down on how the company is integrating nVidia GPUs with AMD and Intel CPUs into a very unique form factor. What NEXTCOMputing does is takes a chassis that remotely resembles a briefcase and build something what can only be considered a mobile workstation. The combination of a moveable multi-socket and multi-GPU powerhouse is something many, including us dream off. The company even integrates between one and three displays into the housing to help decrease the footprint of the device while on the move.

They pride themselves in having a portable CUDA development platform that has a portable GPU accelerated application capabilities. The field deployment of such GPU applications usually includes the following components:

  • Dual Quad Core Processors [Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron]
  • Up to 32GB of DDR2 ECC RAM
  • nVidia Quadro FD + an additional I/O [for instance, SDI In/Out] or nVidia TESLA + Quadro FX.
  • LCD panels support up to 1920×1200 resolutions for a true HD environment.

NEXTComputing portable CUDA rig: Dual Intel Xeon, nVidia Quadro and Tesla
NEXTComputing portable CUDA development rig: Dual Intel Xeon, nVidia Quadro and Tesla

Upon our asking, we were told that the pictured solution we saw weighs around 13 kilograms [29lbs] which in the grand scheme of things is quite heavy, but still smaller and possibly even something you could take with you as a carry-on when travelling on a plane. True, in order to use this setup in a plane, you would have to ask the captain about connecting to the APU [Auxiliary Power Unit], pun intended.

There is also the ability to freely swap hard drives and run multiple 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems ranging from Windows to Linux. As if this weren’t enough, there is still room for upgrades in many of NEXTCOMputing’s various systems.

Backside of the device reveals the need for cooling down this 2TFLOPS monster
Backside of the device reveals the need for cooling down this multi-TFLOPS monster: 6 fans in total

In all, this device could easily be seen as something that photographers or video producers would consider invaluable. Personally, I know of a few people who are forced to carry around their entire computers with them, tower and all, simply because they don’t know of such an easy solution. This enables the content creator to immediately edit and retouch the product right then and there. On the lower end of scale, we could talk about things like wedding videos where someone who films the wedding can have the video ready for the wedding reception [if you have a celebrity client or "the perfect event" client, you could charge hefty $$$ for the service]. Going on remote locations and shooting nature with the ability to preview the shoots on a decent resolution screen is something that saves days of shooting. For instance, we recently went to Plitvice National Park and some of beautiful shots required a retake since recording in 4K resolution with the camera positioned on wooden walkways resulted in shaky images [as our main camera guy frustratingly says, "RED One is so sensitive that it captures movement of the Earth"]. Forget about using the best stand [because we already have it ;)]; single millimeter of movement may shake/ruin your perfect shot. The ability to see shakiness for instance, during the first break is invaluable if the studio is 200 or more miles away.

Their devices are currently being used in Military and Intelligenceapplications, Telecom, Oil & Gas exploration, Medical Imaging, andDigital Broadcast among many others. They also have a ruggedizedversion of their devices that we’ve heard are used to help pilot UAVs. The applications of such a mobile solution are almost limitless and clearly continue to grow day by day.