Green lights flashed off in the distance drawing two unnamed travelers into a barley field in Chualar, Calif. early in the morning, Monday Dec. 30. “There it is, there it is! You see it? What is that? Dude … Holy, wait, are you seeing this?! It’s all laid down. Dude this is a crop circle.” The reports poured in on New Year’s Eve after Julie Belanger published an aerial photograph of the intricately designed pattern. The word was on many people’s lips, aliens. But despite the hopes of some that extraterrestrials were the cause, Santa Clara-based graphics company NVIDIA came forward Sunday, taking credit for the barley design.
“We can’t say who did it. Or exactly how. But we can tell you this: It didn’t involve aliens,” reads NVIDIA’s blog. “We can also tell you why we hired some of the world’s best crop circle artists to put an image of our latest mobile processor in a barley field near Salinas, California, two hours south of San Francisco.”
Braille experts came out to comment on the inner design, saying it was specific to the raised dot language for the visually challenged. Deborah Falanga, a Braille transcriber certified by the Library of Congress, told local news outlet KSBW that the inner markings repeated the numbers 192. Additionally, there were three small circles on the outside rim of the design which indicated the number again, this time as the numbers on an analog clock.
People who saw those numbers were right to pay attention. The 192 refers to the number of cores in NVIDIA’s new Tegra K1 mobile graphics processor. “Those energy-sipping graphics cores put an unbelievable amount of power into an incredibly tiny package,” said NVIDIA. “They use the same Kepler architecture used to accelerate some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, and power the graphics chips embedded in our top-of-the-line GeForce GTX graphics cards.”
The big reveal from NVIDIA came as a press conference at CES on Sunday. “It’s the first mobile processor to deliver the same graphics features as the next generation of consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and faster performance than current generation consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3,” touted the graphics company.
The idea for the crop circle viral marketing campaign came as NVIDIA was conceptualizing “how impossibly advanced” the new Tegra K1 chip is. Impossibly advanced and aliens just went hand-in-hand in their opinion, and soon a crop circle bearing similarities to a microchip was born. NVIDIA has slated the first half of 2014 for prospective ship dates.
Check out the video below for footage of the Tegra K1’s capabilities.