NVIDIA expects as many as four of its Tegra processors to be
used in each vehicle, Credit: NVIDIA Corporation.
It's no mystery that cars have gotten significantly "smarter"
in recent years. With every iteration of new models, high-tech
features such as blind-spot indicators, front-collision
avoidance, lane assistance, and graphics-rich infotainment
systems are already becoming commonplace.
But according to graphics-chip specialist
, we've only just begun.
NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang holding Audi's self-driving
computing model, which contains a Tegra K1 processor. Credit:
That's not to say the current market is inconsequential. When
NVIDIA announced second-quarter results last week, it told
investors its automotive segment revenue growth accelerated to
74% year over year, thanks in part to recent infotainment system
design wins for its Tegra processors in newer models from both
. What's more, when
launched Android Auto
at its annual I/O conference earlier this year, it used a
Tegra-powered infotainment system for the demonstration.
As it stands, Tegra processors are already found in more than
cars, and NVIDIA says "the number is growing rapidly." And
that's no surprise, as Volkswagen alone sold more than 5.2
million vehicles in the first half of 2014.
But there's another reason NVIDIA investors should be excited
right now. For that, consider NVIDIA's supercomputer-esque, 192
Kepler-core Tegra K1 processor, which was
in January at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas. Then in March, NVIDIA invited Audi to its annual GPU
Technology Conference to show off this self-driving car, which
relies on the Tegra K1's computing power contained in a small
module in the trunk.
Audi's self-driving car relies on NVIDIA's Tegra K1 processor,
In fact, NVIDIA envisions that up to
of its Tegra K series processors will ultimately be
integrated into each vehicle going forward. As
Automotive Design & Production
editor Gary Vasilash pointed out -- and keeping in mind
each Tegra K1 is capable of performing at 384 GFLOPS, or 2
billion floating point operations per second for each of the K1's
192 cores -- that would mean "a two-car garage would have as much
computing power as the $120 million Blue Mountain supercomputer
installed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1998."
And that comparison is no coincidence. Last month, NVIDIA
that the world's top 15 most energy-efficient supercomputers have
NVIDIA Tesla K-series GPU accelerators "at their heart."
Better yet, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says the company
made the K1 a fully programmable platform. In short, this will
enable consumers to easily update their vehicles as NVIDIA
improves both the physical and algorithmic capabilities of their
K series processors going forward. If you're still having trouble
visualizing exactly what that means, check out this short clip
from Huang's CES presentation:
So why is NVIDIA thriving in the automotive space? For one,
the parallel computing structure that drives the GPUs NVIDIA has
built for decades makes them better suited for handling many
tasks at once than traditional CPUs. This plays perfectly not
only into the graphics requirements underlying infotainment
systems, but also into the lofty computational demands for
effectively handing visually complicated tasks such as feature
identification and collision avoidance.
Going forward, we can also safely assume that NVIDIA has no
intention of taking its foot off the gas. So buckle up, NVIDIA
investors, because this should be one heck of a ride.
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This Company Is Helping Your Car Think Like a
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