NY Times has a piece on the exciting new industrial uses of GPUs. For instance, General Mills, maker of Totino's and Jeno's brand of pizzas, turned to NVIDIA's CUDA interface to get the horsepower they needed to model pizzas with thousands of combinations of mozzarella cheese, tomato paste, crust and chemicals and blast them with microwave radiation:
To speed up the task, General Mills turned to computers containing high-powered graphics chips from Nvidia, a Santa Clara, Calif., company best known for making video games look more realistic on game consoles and personal computers.
Energy exploration firms, clothing designers, medical companies and financial services firms have also bought systems running on Nvidia chips. All of these companies share a common problem: they need hardware that can analyze a vast quantity of data and do it much faster than standard computers.
You can read about more uses over here. The article says NVIDIA has shipped close to 100 million GPUs with CUDA support and that the CUDA programming kit has been downloaded more than 150,000 times. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang expects his company will have shipped 300 million units with CUDA before the competition will close in, claiming they have a four year lead on Intel:
Nvidia’s competitors are more dismissive. Executives at A.M.D. and Intel argue that a rather small set of very sophisticated software can take advantage of the CUDA design. “They are severely restricted and limited,” said Dave Hofer, a director of marketing at Intel. “In the short term, it is not a massive threat.”
Intel plans to release a competing product called Larrabee in 2009 or 2010. A.M.D. is promoting a fledgling programming layer from Apple called OpenCL, or Open Computing Language, which A.M.D. hopes will blunt CUDA’s momentum should it be ready for widespread use as expected in 2009.
Mr. Huang, however, said the competition is underestimating his company’s lead. “We will have shipped 300 million units with CUDA by the time those other guys are ready,” Mr. Huang said. “We probably have a four-year lead on Intel.”