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Nvidia CUDA Brings GPU-Based Parallel Programming to the Classroom

Nvidia has released a public beta of CUDA 1.1, an update to the company's C-compiler and SDK for developing multi-core and parallel processing applications on GPUs, specifically Nvidia's 8-series GPUs (and their successors in the future). While the 1.1 beta was originally released to developers Nov. 12, an update was posted last week that includes new public beta Linux display drivers. In addition, Nvidia has announced that more than 20 universities around the world have adopted CUDA for multi-core and parallel processing programming, with several more also exploring CUDA for inclusion in their parallel programming curricula.

New in the 1.1 beta release is a CUDA dll for standard display drivers, support for 64-bit Windows XP, graphics interoperability across Multiple GPUs, new async and stream management functionality, and additional source code examples, according to information posted in Nvidia's developer forums.

Earlier this month Nvidia also announced that several universities have adopted CUDA for GPU development. Some of these include:

  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Purdue University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania

"Perhaps the most important challenge facing the computing community is the move to parallel processing. As educators, teaching parallel hardware and software today are vital to giving our students the tools they need to build tomorrow's hardware and software," said John Owens, assistant professor in the department of computer engineering at University of California, Davis, in a statement released earlier this month to coincide with the SuperComputing 07 conference, which was held this month in Reno, NV. "Nvidia GPUs and the CUDA programming environment are a terrific way for us to put cheap, powerful data-parallel processing on the desktop for all our students."

CUDA (which stands for "Compute Unified Device Architecture") presently supports only Linux and Windows XP environments. A Mac OS X release is expected in January, and a version for Windows Vista is also forthcoming. The 1.1 beta supports Windows XP (32- and 64-bit) and Red Hat Linux 4 and 5 (32- and 64-bit). The production release will support CUDA's regular, full set of Linux distributions, according to the company.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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