nVision 2008: Mythbusters!

Need I say more?

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, or the Mythbusters as they are better known, usually turn their talents towards debunking popular, well, myths. At this year’s nVision closing ceremony, though, they turned their scientific and engineering talents towards demonstrating a perhaps arguably accurate conclusion, but with such aplomb that I doubt anyone watching cared.

To demonstrate, in simple terms, the difference between a CPU and a GPU, Jamie and Adam wheeled a robot on stage, which proceeded to fire paintballs at a screen, drawing out an image of a smiley face. This was actually pretty impressive in and of itself – by the way, I want a review sample okay? – but was nothing compared to what was coming next.

Hidden under a sheet was a huge monstrosity of pipes connected by a string of tubes to a quartet of huge compressed air containers. At this point everybody was just about cottoning on to what was about to happen, especially when the Mythbusters suggested that the crowd “cover up, you might get splattered“.

A huge rush of air, 1,102 paintballs and some 275ms later, and the screen opposite had a pixelated, but nonetheless recognisable, image of the Mona Lisa painted blasted onto it. To call the spectacle awesome would be an understatement of epic proportions.

If I were inclined to take paintball guns as directly representative of processing devices, I’d definitely have to concede that GPUs are much, much better than CPUs.


(centre)I’d love to claim credit for these high-speed shutter images, but they’re actually courtesy nVidia. Sadly all I own is a pitiful compact(/centre)


In video form:

Incidentally, just in case anyone’s interested: nVidia reckons it had over 8,000 attendees to nVision this year. Not bad going.

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