Nvidia looks to be bringing 3D rendering to the cloud with the news it is to partner with rendering expert Mental Images to launch its RealityServer platform.

As reported over on Electronista, the pair are hoping to develop systems for offering web-based 3D rendering via Nvidia's high-end Tesla RS GPUs.

Designed around the company's CUDA general purpose GPU technology, the Tesla processors feature 240 individually addressable cores - and a single implementation may feature a hundred or more Tesla GPUs capable of simultaneously rendering for thousands of users. While the Tesla RS technology will be available in configurations as small as eight GPUs, the company hasn't yet revealed pricing - and if you're looking to launch a service running on hundreds it's certainly going be a concern.

Mental Images brings the RealityServer software to the party, which is designed to do the heavy lifting of 3D rendering server-side - meaning that users with relatively modestly powered systems can interact with realistic 3D objects and environments via their web browser, even on restricted platforms such as netbooks or even smartphones.

The platform offers support for iray rendering, which the company claims will allow for the creation of extremely realistic objects via a simple user interface - and can calculate shadows and reflections in a ray-tracing manner.

The initial target market for the RealityServer product is, of course, corporate - medical research, engineering, product development, and architecture are all areas which would clearly benefit from the system. That said, consumers would likely get something from the deal too - shopping portals will be viewing progress with interest.

In case you're thinking this sounds rather familiar, you're right: back in January Nvidia's rival AMD unveiled the Fusion Render Cloud project, which is substantially similar - although more aimed at allowing games to be sold on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model than for professional use.

Do you believe that this sort of technology is where cloud computing will really take off, or are you too attached to your high-end graphics card to ever allow a server to take over the heavy lifting? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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