Nvidia Targets Medical Imaging Applications With Quadro 2000D Graphics Cards

Nvidia on Monday launched its Quadro 2000D professional graphics cards, specifically tailored to professional medical imaging applications such as patient diagnosis.

Based on Nvidia's Fermi parallel processing architecture, the Quadro line of Nvidia GPUs brings high-resolution visualization technology to a variety of vertical markets -- among them, diagnostic imaging, which NVIDIA’s Quadro 2000D card was designed for from the beginning.

Adam Scraba, Nvidia product manager, said in an interview with CRN that Nvidia is referring to its Quadro 2000D as a "solution" rather than a "processor" because Nvidia has wrapped several specific capabilities around the Quadro 2000D in addition to hardware. "The interesting thing about medical imaging is that radiologists and doctors diagnose patient abnormalities through very high-resolution color images," he said. "They have to ensure consistent grey-scale tonalities across various monitors. We work closely with diagnostics specialists and display makers on monitor calibration and partner qualifications."

Scraba said customers in medical imaging environments are looking for a "workhorse" solution, a single graphics card that acts as the standard for all their imaging workloads, since many are required to get a country certification from a government agency and cannot change the product at will once they get qualified. For this reason, Scraba said it is important to maintain consistent support and control through the course of the card's lifetime -- which is only a few months for gaming cards, but in the case of Quadro, the warranty lasts three years

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"The other great thing about the Quadro line is we build it and manufacture it ourselves, and support it in the marketplace for three years," he added. "It’s a big selling point, something that folks who build workstations demand, especially in the medical space where customers seek the most seamless path in IT implementation."

The Quadro 2000D is available for Dell's Precision T7500, T5500, T3500, and R5400 workstations in the U.S. through the Dell's Software & Peripherals (S&P) program. It's also been certified for HP's Z800, Z600, and Z400 medical imaging workstations for use in hospitals, radiology rooms and clinics. Nvidia is distributing its Quadro 2000D professional graphics cards to reseller partners in the Americas and Europe through PNY Technologies.

"With Quadro 2000D, the first customer for this product is the channel," Scraba said. "We work extremely close with people like PNY to make sure that they fully understand who we're targeting with the product, that our collaboration is meeting their customers' needs. We collaborate with them on training, getting their message across to their reseller customers, and determining what value it serves. We've done a lot of work with PNY. They get this market; they understand who they are selling to, and how to sell it."

Next: Nvidia's Approach To The Reseller Channel

However, asked about Nvidia's relationship with the reseller channel in general, and the role of the channel in its Quadro strategy in particular, Scraba said Nvidia does not interface directly with resellers, but Nvidia makes sure through its distributor partners that resellers have the tools they need.

"Before we launched the product, we worked closely with key medical partners, including top display manufacturers, ISVs and those who bundle and rollout turnkey solutions to hospitals and medical rooms who did a lot to work with them," Scraba said. "We tested it with them from the beginning of the process, ensuring that we hit their needs, as there are a few key requirements for hospitals and radiology rooms."

For instance, unlike other Quadro products, Scraba said, the Quadro 2000D supports industry-standard DICOM monitor calibration offering grayscale consistency across monitors, as well as 10- and 12-bit grayscale pixel packing support. The Quadro 2000D also supports industry-standard DICOM monitor calibration offering grayscale consistency across monitors.

Most notably, Nvidia's Quadro 2000D card includes two dual-link digital video interface (DVI) connectors in order to improve image resolution up to 10 megapixels, the level required for confident medical diagnoses. The switch back to DVI, the standard for previous Quadro cards, is an indication that DisplayPort, VESA's digital display interface that ports to HDMI and was adopted in Nvidia's Quadro professional graphics cards released in October, has not been fully deployed in the medical space.

"This solution was arguably long overdue," Scraba said. "Both Nvidia and its OEM partners thought DisplayPort would be a lot more prevalent than it has been. It was a bet that we took that was taken pretty much industry-wide. It never really caught on in the medical imaging space, where end users have all been standardized on DVI. What we heard early on from them is 'we need a dual-DVI solution. A lot of the workstations currently in radiology rooms and hospitals are really running Quadro products that are two generations old. Those are our last dual-DVI products, the Quadro FX 1700 cards."

Scraba said the medical space has taken a long time to move to DisplayPort, which is one reason Nvidia chose to re-visit DVI at this time. However, he could not say whether Nvidia will offer other unique, specialty products such as professional-class GPUs targeting one specific vertical. "A dual-DVI mid-range solution will be attractive for entry-level CAD and digital content creation markets," he added. "So while it is very much a solution designed for medical, and while all the work we've done to release the product has been geared towards specific medical needs, we believe other folks will be drawn to it as well."

Next: Key Features On Nvidia's Quadro 2000D

In addition, Scraba said the underlying GPU that Quadro 2000D uses, the Quadro 2000 GPU that launched in the Fall offers fast and efficient Open GL and Windows DX 11 support allowing it to handle demanding workloads -- all at a maximum power consumption rate of 62 Watts. "The Quadro 2000 is the industry leader in terms of performance-per-watt," he said, "Power is a very important concern for people who make workstations, and this is the most efficient solution in the mid-range professional market."

Quadro 2000D also features Nvidia Mosaic Display Technology, for spanning applications across multiple high-resolution monitors, SLI Multi-OS technology allowing a single workstation to run Windows and Linux simultaneously, and Nvidia 3D Vision and 3D Vision Pro stereoscopic technology.

Nvidia's Quadro 2000D GPUs is available in the $500-600 range.