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Analysis: Microsoft Gives Nvidia A Nod With Windows 7, DirectX 11

With DirectCompute, is Microsoft giving Nvidia's CUDA a leg up?

This week, Nvidia announced that it has received Windows Hardware Qualification Lab (WHQL) certification for a driver supporting DirectCompute and Windows 7. DirectCompute is a new DirectX API from Microsoft that is a Windows-based alternative to CUDA but also runs on the CUDA architecture. Although earlier this year Advanced Micro Device's ATI publicly demonstrated a DirectX 11 GPU (the first ever) that takes advantage of DirectCompute, Nvidia's current lineup of DirectX 10 processors also will be able to support it.

Out of the gate, Nvidia certainly looks as if it has a leg up on the competition. With multiple GeForce processors already available, and now WHQL certified, OEMs and enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to not choose an Nvidia graphics card. In a recent press release, the company even claimed that "the world's largest PC vendors, including HP, Dell and Acer, have selected GeForce GPUs to help lead the transition to Windows 7."

Overall, DirectCompute is taking the idea behind CUDA and acknowledging its benefits. Nvidia did a great job nurturing the architecture and convincing developers to enhance their applications to take advantage of it, and with Microsoft joining in, the model is sure to become a de facto standard.

In the long run, as is usually the case, the playing field will likely level out a bit as ATI continues to produce compatible GPUs but, for the release of Windows 7, it looks like Nvidia is happily sitting in the front seat.

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