Just 12 months ago, Nvidia was best known for its GPUs – specialised chips called graphics processing units, which are the gold standard for high-end gaming computers. Last year it emerged that they were also best-suited for the intensive demands of artificial intelligence (AI) applications. in particular, generative AI and large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and Google Bard were highly dependent on these kinds of chips. Demand for Nvidia GPUs soared, its share price shot through the roof, and Nivida became the darling of investors.
At CES 2024 in Las Vegas this week, Nvidia brought its GPUs back to gaming – with a heady dose of AI thrown in.
“The AI revolution returned to where it started this week, putting powerful new tools into the hands of gamers and content creators,” wrote Brian Caulfield on the Nvidia blog.
He was referring to a press conference held on Monday in Las Vegas, which included a double-whammy of the kind we can now expect regularly from Nvidia: the unveiling of generative AI models that will bring lifelike characters to games and applications; and new GPUs for gamers and creators.
“Today, NVIDIA is at the centre of the latest technology transformation: generative AI,” said Jeff Fisher, senior vice president for GeForce at NVIDIA, who revealed at the event that the company had shipped more than 100-million of its RTX GPUs. He introduced TensorRT acceleration for Stable Diffusion XL and SDXL Turbo in the Automatic1111 text-to-image app, providing up to a 60% boost in performance. He said that a new “Chat with RTX playground” would be released later this month, allowing users to connect an RTX-accelerated LLM to their own data, from locally stored documents to YouTube videos. It would use retrieval-augmented generation, or RAG, a technique for enhancing the accuracy and reliability of generative AI models.
The press conference also saw the debut of Nvidia’s Avatar Cloud Engine (ACE), a technology platform that brings digital avatars to life with generative AI. ACE AI models are designed to run in the cloud or locally on the PC.
Senior Product Manager Seth Schneider demonstrated how it works, as outlined in the Nvidia blog:
“First, a player’s voice input is passed to Nvidia’s automatic speech recognition model, which translates speech to text. Then, the text is put into an LLM to generate the character’s response.
“After that, the text response is vocalised using a text-to-speech model, which is passed to an animation model to create a realistic lip sync. Finally, the dynamic character is rendered into the game scene.”
Game and interactive avatar developers can use ACE and generative AI technologies to transform interactions between players and non-playable characters in games and applications. Developers working on it include Convai, Charisma.AI, Inworld, miHoYo, NetEase Games, Ourpalm, Tencent, Ubisoft and UneeQ.
Fisher also announced a new series of GeForce RTX 40 SUPER GPUs, promising more gaming and generative AI performance. The GeForce RTX 4080 Super, he said, can power fully ray-traced games at 4K, 1.4x faster than the RTX 3080 Ti without frame gen, in the most graphically intensive games. With 836 AI TOPS, NVIDIA DLSS Frame Generation will deliver an extra performance boost, making the RTX 4080 SUPER twice as fast as an RTX 3080 Ti.
Then there was the RTX 4070 Ti Super. adding more cores and increasing the frame buffer to 16GB and the memory bus to 256 bits. He said it was 1.6x faster than a 3070 Ti and 2.5x faster with DLSS 3, Finally, he said the new RTX 4070 Super added 20% more cores, making it faster than the RTX 3090 while using a fraction of the power. And with DLSS 3, it’s 1.5x faster in the most demanding games.
* CES, formerly the Consumer Electronics Show, is one of the most influential tech events in the world, serving as the launchpad for several thousand new products every January in Las Vegas. It is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and features every aspect of the tech sector.