ATI/Amd and Asus are about to release external graphic cards. Asus’ is ready this spring but unfortunately we wont be able to purchase the component seperately, it will be sold with new portables only. For now. ATI/Amd’s new device code named ‘Lasso’ takes the unit to the next step, it will be possible to bind more than one graphic card to the unit.
The GPU (Graphical Prosessing Unit) is not just a graphic card, it is a master of math, graphic is all math. The GPU will relief the main CPU of heavy mathwork. Which bring me to Distributed Computing. It is already possible to download a GPU-client for Folding@Home and hopefully many will follow. A GPU client can speed up crunching x30/x40 compared to a CPU on certain operations. Not all GPUs are supported, and not all math operations are fitting the GPUs architecture. Folding@Home is currently supporting ATI/Amd’s X1600, X1800 and X1900 class. The Processor R580 in the X1900XT card is recommended since it has 48 pixel shaders. You will need the Catalyst drivers, which means there is no Linux client yet, but this wil be possible in near future.
There is also activity on Cure@PS3 project, where you can use your PS3 to crunch Folding@Home packages. Here is a link to the PS3 Faq at Standford.
Picture having a bunch of dull Linux-servers with no monitors connected, hooking on a few ‘Lasso’s on it and start crunching, I really hope more Distributed Computing projects will follow in Stanfords footsteps.
Check out this page for an image of an early ‘Lasso’. 🙂