Efficiency Gets Another Boon: Parallel Kernel Support

In GPU programming, a kernel is the function or small program running across the GPU hardware. Kernels are parallel in nature and perform the same task(s) on a very large dataset.

Typically, companies like NVIDIA don't disclose their hardware limitations until a developer bumps into one of them. In GT200/G80, the entire chip could only be working on one kernel at a time.

When dealing with graphics this isn't usually a problem. There are millions of pixels to render. The problem is wider than the machine. But as you start to do more general purpose computing, not all kernels are going to be wide enough to fill the entire machine. If a single kernel couldn't fill every SM with threads/instructions, then those SMs just went idle. That's bad.

GT200 (left) vs. Fermi (right)

Fermi, once again, fixes this. Fermi's global dispatch logic can now issue multiple kernels in parallel to the entire system. At more than twice the size of GT200, the likelihood of idle SMs went up tremendously. NVIDIA needs to be able to dispatch multiple kernels in parallel to keep Fermi fed.

Application switch time (moving between GPU and CUDA mode) is also much faster on Fermi. NVIDIA says the transition is now 10x faster than GT200, and fast enough to be performed multiple times within a single frame. This is very important for implementing more elaborate GPU accelerated physics (or PhysX, great ;)…).

The connections to the outside world have also been improved. Fermi now supports parallel transfers to/from the CPU. Previously CPU->GPU and GPU->CPU transfers had to happen serially.

A More Efficient Architecture ECC, Unified 64-bit Addressing and New ISA


View All Comments

  • Gary Key - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    He is gone as are a couple of others. We have a new comments system in final development now that should take care of this problem in the future. Reply
  • Voo - Saturday, October 3, 2009 - link

    You may overseen it, but there was a edit by an administrator to one of his posts which did exactly what you want ;) Reply
  • james jwb - Sunday, October 4, 2009 - link

    that's good to hear :) Reply
  • Hxx - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    By the looks of it, Nvidia doesn't have much going on for this year. If they loose the DX11 boat against ATI then I will pity their stockholders. About the only thing that makes those green cards attractive is their Physics spiel. Now if ATI would hurry up and do somethin with that Havoc, then dark days will await Nvidia. One way or the other, its a win-win for the consumer. I just wish their AMD division would fare just as well against intel. Reply
  • Zool - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    I dont wont to be too pesimistic but availability in Q1 2010 is lame late. Windows 7 will come out soon so people will surely want to upgrade to dx11 till christmas. Also OEM market which is actualy the most profitable. Dell, HP and others will hawe windows 7 systems and they will of course need dx11 cards till christmas.(amd will hawe hopefully all models out till that time)
    Than of course dx11 games that will come out in future can be optimized for radeon 5K now while for gt300 we dont even know the graphic specs and the only working silicon dont even resemble to a card.
    Very bad timing for nvidia this time that will give amd a huge advantage.
  • Zool - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    Actualy this could hapen if u merge a super gpgpu tesla card and a GPU and want to sell it as one("because designing GPUs this big is "fucking hard"). Average people (maybe 95% of all) dont even know what Megabyte or bit is not even GPGPU. They will want to buy a graphic card not cuda card.
    If amd and microsoft will make heawy DX11 pr than even the rest of nvidias gpus wont sell.
  • PorscheRacer - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    As with anything hardware, you need the killer software to have consumers want it. DX11 is out now, so we have Windows 7 (which most people are taking a liking to, even gamers) and you have a few upcoming games that people look to be interested in. For GPGPU and all that, well... What do we have as a seriously awesome application that consumers want and feel they need to go out and buy a GPU for? Some do that for F@H and the like, and a few for transcoding video, but what else is there? Until we see that, it's going to be ahrd to convince consumers to buy that GPU. As it is, most feel IGP is good enough for them... Reply
  • PorscheRacer - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    Actually, thinking about this... Maybe if they were able to put a small portion of this into IGP, and include some good software with it, maybe the average consumer could see the benefits easier and quicker and be inclined to go for that step up to a dedicated GPU? Reply
  • RXR - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    DocSilicon, you are one funny as hell mental patient to be!. I really hope you dont get banned. You just made reading the comments a whole lot more fun. Plus, it's win win. You get to satisfy your need to go completely postal at everyone, and we get a funny sideshow.

  • - Friday, October 2, 2009 - link

    Great words but nothing behind! Fermis is Nvidias Prescott or should I say much like the last Voodoo chip that never really appeared on the market? Too many transistors are not good ... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now