With CPU-integrated graphics upping their game and handling most casual gaming and HD video watching tasks without too many problems, AMD and Nvidia could find the bottom dropping out of the low-end discrete graphics market before long. The question is, how do the companies make up for it? One answer lies on the opposite end of the spectrum: high-end super-duper-computers often take advantage of the raw computational power of GPUs. That same processing efficiency is opening up new (final) frontiers -- Nvidia's helping a Lunar X team in their quest to go to the moon, Alice!
Nvidia announced that the German "Part-Time Scientists" team -- best name ever, right there -- has begun using Nvidia Tesla GPUs in the command center for the Asimov lunar rover being built by the group. The GPUs will be used for a wide array of number-crunching activities, ranging from simulating mission scenarios and navigation techniques in preparatory exercises to actually monitoring the Asimov and processing its massive video feeds when it (hopefully) hits the giant hunk o' cheese in the sky. The team expects a five- to ten-time boost in video processing speeds thanks to the addition of the Nvidia GPUs.
The team hopes to land the Asimov on the moon by 2015, and Google plans on doling out over $30 million to the first private groups that actually make it there. (Twenty-six teams are taking part in the Lunar X prize race.) If you want to learn more about GPU computing and the wonders it's capable of, check out Loyd Case's awesome The State of GPU Computing: Is the CPU Dead Yet?