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NVIDIA Unveils VRWorks Software Development Kit at GTC 2016

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Apr. 12 2016, Updated 11:07 a.m. ET

NVIDIA now for VR software

In the previous part of the series, we saw that NVIDIA (NVDA) unveiled its Quadro M5500 GPU (graphics processing unit) to enable its PC (personal computer) partners such as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and MSI to launch VR-ready (virtual reality) workstations.

Apart from addressing VR hardware needs, NVIDIA is venturing into VR software needs, as its partners are increasingly interested in writing software for Sony (SNE), HTC, and Oculus VR headsets.

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Hence, NVIDIA launched its VRWorks software development kit at the GTC 2016 conference. The kit offers features such as Context Priority, GPU (graphics processing unit) Affinity, GPU Direct, Multi-Res Shading, Synchronization, and Warp & Blend. NVIDIA has packaged both hardware and software graphics solutions under a product called VR Ready. HP and MSI have already incorporated VR Ready in their computer line-ups.

At the GTC conference, NVIDIA also unveiled other VR tool updates, including the following:

  • CUDA 8 and nvGRAPH, which are due for launch in June 2016
  • IndeX plug-in for ParaView and GIE (GPU Interface Engine), which is due for launch in May 2016
  • cuDNN 5, which is due for launch in April 2016

Competition

NVIDIA will face tough competition from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Qualcomm (QCOM), and Intel (INTC) as they look to grab shares of the VR market.

AMD has launched an open-standard, cross-platform Vulkan graphics API (application program interface) that enables developers to control the performance, efficiency, and capabilities of Radeon GPUs and multi-core CPUs (central processing units).

While AMD is a competitor in the GPU space, the names Intel and Qualcomm come as a surprise, as the two have not been part of the gaming industry.

Qualcomm’s recently launched Snapdragon 820 processor could play a key role in VR due to its low latency. Latency is a key issue for many early VR users, and Snapdragon 820 reduces latency by 50%. The chip is VR ready, and now the company is launching a software development kit to enable developers to use its full potential.

On the other hand, Intel is targeting the AR (augmented reality) market, which is similar to VR technology. The company will power Microsoft’s (MSFT) HoloLens AR headset.

NVIDIA also has much in store for VR consumers, including its GeForce GTX Titan desktop GPUs and its Iray VR technology. We’ll look into these technologies in the next part of the series.

The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) has exposure to the entire technology supply chain. It has 10.2% exposure to MSFT, 0.40% exposure to HPQ, 1.8% exposure to QCOM, and 0.45% exposure to NVDA.

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