Graphics cards today are not just used for the conventional 3D rendering and gaming tasks they are traditionally associated with. They have advanced to a point where they provide significant performance benefits over conventional CPU based processing. As a result, innovative companies are finding ways of utilising their performance to improve competitive solutions over competitors.
We currently supply many customised industrial computers with high-end graphics cards for both CUDA and OpenCL graphics processing in a variety of applications and environments. Traditionally most of these systems are fanned, static solutions, often in Rack mount enclosures. However, the industrial computer world is changing rapidly and as a result we are seeing a push towards fanless computers and mobile devices such as rugged laptops and tablets.
Today, high-end graphics cards are available in mobile low power variants. However, they are primarily designed for laptop computers where continuity of supply and longevity are of no concern and at the moment there are very few industrial component manufacturers developing top performance graphics card solutions.
During my trip to Computex this year I was hoping to find someone who has developed a motherboard that would accept Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) form factor graphics cards and suppliers of industrial long-life MXM boards. In truth I found half of the solution. I was able to identify some interesting MXM graphics boards featuring high-end mobile chipsets and a 3 year road mapped longevity. However, suitable boards to accommodate the modules were nowhere to be found. After much digging I have discovered a few motherboard manufacturers who have developed boards for specific applications, that are bound by non-disclosure agreements preventing release as a standard product offering.
Currently, I am working to identify a solution that will bring fanless/mobile devices the ability to crunch numbers in benign environments and in the mobile workforce, and hope to release this in the near future. If you are reading this blog and have a project with similar challenges that you can’t identify a solution to, bring me your requirement!