Is NVIDIA's Visual Computing Appliance a Game-Changer?

In a press release yesterda, NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA  ) unveiled the industry's first Visual Computing Appliance, or VCA for short. And no, it's not a high-tech refrigerator for hardcore gamers.

Instead, according to the release, the gaming specialist's GRID-born VCA is a "powerful GPU-based system that runs complex applications" like those from Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE  ) , Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK  ) , and Paris-based Dassault Systemes, and then "sends their graphics output over the network to be displayed on a client computer."

Source: NVIDIA.

What's more, to circumvent all the performance skeptics out there, NVIDIA had the foresight to make sure the device was certified and supported by its professional application partners, even going so far as to include encouraging quotes from each of the CEOs of Adobe, Autodesk, and Dassault Systems on its VCA product information page.

One more piece in the long-term puzzle
So why does this matter?

Aside from the fact that this rack-mountable wonder is a whole new bucket of awesome for all those hardworking folks in the IT trenches, it's also important to note that this product represents a significant step toward NVIDIA's quest to grab more low-hanging fruit in the IT budgets of small and medium-size businesses, which generally have limited resources in their IT infrastructure. Depending on the configuration, each device will be able to support up to either eight or 16 concurrent users.

I suppose NVIDIA's creation of a VCA geared toward small business shouldn't come as much of a surprise, especially considering the GRID platform previously only boasted graphics virtualization options geared toward the extreme ends of the user spectrum, from its enterprise solutions for large corporations to its consumer-oriented cloud gaming GRID service, which promises "high-quality, low-latency, multi-device gaming on any PC, Mac, tablet, spartphone, or TV."

Of course, not all of us are convinced that NVIDIA's long-term vision is entirely valid, especially when we recall the company's semi-confusing motives behind its recent unveiling of Project Shield, the company's yet-to-be-released, Tegra 4-powered portable gaming device.

Even so, as I wrote last month, I'm convinced long-term investors can rest assured knowing that, regardless of whether any given product is deemed a successful in its own right, each of them has a place as part of NVIDIA's ambitious plans to "build on its gaming roots to be come a one-stop shop for all things graphics and image processing."

Foolish final thoughts
I've held my shares of NVIDIA for nearly three years now and have no plans of selling anytime soon -- especially given its 2.4% dividend yield with the stock trading at less than 14 times trailing earnings. When you back out NVIDIA's more than $6 per share in cash (as of the end of last quarter), that multiple drops to a mouthwatering 7.1 times trailing earnings.

If you ask me, that's cheap by any measure, especially for a company with as much long-term potential as NVIDIA.

NVIDIA was ahead of the curve launching its mobile Tegra processor, but investing gains haven't followed as expected, with the company struggling to gain momentum in the smartphone market. The Motley Fool's brand-new premium report examines NVIDIA's stumbling blocks, but also homes in on opportunities that many investors are overlooking. We'll help you sort fact from fiction to determine whether NVIDIA is a buy at today's prices. Simply click here now to unlock your copy of this comprehensive report.


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