Graphics chipmaker Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA) said Friday that it has released a new software development tool that will allow programmers to tap into the power of its processors, opening the door to solve complex computing problems.

The firm's core product, the graphics processor (GPU) has traditionally been used to create complex 3D images in games and design software. Over the years, the GPU has become increasingly adept in handling mathematically intense calculations - functions specifically needed for graphics. Nvidia’s CUDA development kit, however, promises to bring those functions outside of gaming, empowering scientists and engineers with raw processing power.

The GPU is now a powerful, programmable processor that is ideally suited for computationally intensive applications such as seismic processing for oil and gas exploration, computing in bioscience, and financial modeling, said Andy Keane, general manager of GPU Computing at Nvidia.

Arithmetic operations may be best suited for the GPU, Nvidia engineers believe. The company says the new kit will allow full access to the 128 cores of its GeForce 8800 graphics cards and leverage their floating point capability,

With the recent introduction of CUDA technology, the parallel computing power of the GPU is now accessible to virtually any developer through standard C programming language, Keane said.

Developers can download the beta version of the Cuda SDK and C-compiler for Windows XP and Linux (RedHat Release 4 Update 3) from the Nvidia's website.

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