The partnership between NVIDIA, a graphics hardware vendor, virtualization giant VMware and Google was announced during the second keynote address at VMworld 2014 on Tuesday. NVIDIA is supplying select Chromebooks with its GRID virtual graphics processing unit (vGPU), which combines multiple virtual machines into a single graphics processor.
Chromebooks are designed to be lightweight, affordable notebook solutions for businesses and schools. But VMware Blast's virtualization technology allows the Chromebook to act as a pass-through for resource-heavy graphics processing happening on other machines. The result is workstation-class graphics on a Chromebook.
When the news was unveiled at VMworld, the pitch was geared to businesses seeking affordable graphics workstations. But NVIDIA says schools and healthcare offices have expressed interest in the technology, which can be used to run graphics-heavy applications in a cloud environment.
St. Lawrence Academy, a Silicon Valley school in Santa Clara, Calif., was the basis for a case study by NVIDIA on the school’s graphics-intensive courses using cloud technology.
Other classes, such as Brian McLane's desktop publishing class, also benefit from graphics technologies. Lane, who blogs as the TechMan, wrote an entry this year about how Chromebooks can be used to teach graphic design on the cheap.
"I teach a high school desktop publishing class which includes graphic design, page layout, image editing, and more. We can use Chromebooks for almost everything we do. And we use completely free cloud software to do it," McLane wrote.
According to the tech blog Anandtech, Acer's K1-powered Chromebook 13 will be the first model with the new graphics functionality.