Nvidia has launched version 2.0 of its GRID architecture, which lets studios run creative software on their servers – appearing in virtualised form for artists, designers and editors to work with on thin clients, laptops, desktops and even tablets. As far as the users is concerned, they are using Maya or Nuke or After Effects or Photoshop – or any other creative application – as if they were on a standard computer, but with the performance of the server (which could be massive).

11 companies are completing trials of the Nvidia GRID 2.0 beta, with major server vendors including Cisco, Dell, HP and Lenovo qualifying GRID 2.0 to run on 125 models of server, including new blade servers.  Virtualisation is possible through either of the main vendors for this tech, Citrix and VMware.    

As well as allowing users to work on devices from tablets and thin clients to laptops, virtualisation also aims to make media management easier – as everything's stored on a server – improve security and let users have access to more power than a standard workstation. In a traditional setup, everyone has a set amount of processing power in the workstation under their desk – which is sitting idle if they're not using it. In a virtualised setup, they share a central 'pot', potentially having access to more power if they need it (unless everyone's really pushing it).

Nvidia GRID 2.0 benefits

Using the latest version of Nvidia’s Maxwell GPU architecture, GRID 2.0 delivers twice the application performance as before, exceeding the performance of many native clients, according to the company. Companies can now also run GRID-enabled virtual desktops on blade servers, not simply rack servers.

GRID 2.0 also supports up to 128 users per server, up from 64.

Nvidia GRID 2.0 for Linux

One of the key problems many VFX houses have had with virtualisation is that many VFX houses – including most in Soho – have standardised on Linux. With Linux virtualisation now supported by Citrix and VMware, GRID is no longer limited to the Windows operating system.

Neil MacDonald, vice president and general manager, HP BladeSystem, said, “With GRID 2.0 we can provide our customers a powerful, secure and reliable blade server configuration, giving them more options to virtualise all their graphics-accelerated workflows. GRID technology allows HP to provide the highest density virtualised graphics offering on the market today so that our customers easily scale to accommodate the highest possible number of users.”

“In 2013, Citrix and NVIDIA released the first joint vGPU solution to enable multiple virtual desktops to share a single GPU and deliver an uncompromised experience that scales easily,” said Calvin Hsu, vice president, product marketing, Windows App Delivery, Citrix. “NVIDIA GRID 2.0 with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop app and desktop delivery now allows more users to take advantage of rich applications on any device.”

You can experience Nividia GRID for yourself through the NVIDIA GRID Test Drive. This offers instant access to Nividia GRID vGPU acceleration on a Windows desktop with 2D and 3D applications, such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks.