At a press conference in Las Vegas, Nvidia today announced an update to its highly successful Tegra K1 mobile processor. The X1 combines a 64-bit ARM_based processor with a graphics chip based on the company’s Maxwell architecture. The K1 used Nvidia’s older Kepler GPU technology. The X1 will feature a 256-core Maxwell GPU and an eight-core 64bit CPU. That, the company says, makes it the first teraflop mobile processor.
The original Tegra K1, Nvidia noted, was the first mobile processor that brought together a strong mobile CPU with a very powerful GPU. Bringing Kepler to the K1 took Nvidia two years.
That's great for gaming sure, but Nvidia has its eyes set on something bigger: Creating a super computer brain that controls your whole car. Nvidia's new Drive CX "mobile cockpit computer" is a device that's powered by a Tegra x1 that can push 16.6 megapixels, or 4 HD displays all at once. That is to say, it can power a whole bunch of badass displays in your car all at once. It could turn your car's dash into a sci-fi spaceship dashboard.
Something a little like this:
But it goes further than just that. Nvidia wants to put the X1 to work to help be the brains of future driverless cars. Nvidia's also announced something called the Drive PX, an "auto-pilot car computer" that's powered by two X1s. The point of this chip? To know everything that's going on in and around your car, from what's displayed on its screens, to anything coming in from driver assistance cameras that are facing outwards. It's the brain that makes sense of what's coming in through the cars many eyes, that lets it really learn about and understand its surroundings using neural network technology that can teach itself what cars and vans and cyclists and pedestrians look like over time.
Sounds great right? Hell yeah. The catch is that it's still a long, long way off. The X1 is a chip with the horsepower to make this sort of stuff possible, sure, but cars still have a lot of catching up to do, whether it's by including a ton of high-res panels that will show you all those awesomeTron graphics, or by having a bevvy of outward facing cameras that provide all the information something like an "auto-pilot car computer" would want to process. And that's to say nothing of the challenges of getting this tech—and this tech specifically—into cars; everybody is working a self-driving car these days.
The tech works now though. Nvidia's already got prototypes of this tech that are functional, and by extension, cars with brains smart enough to spot cyclists and pedestrians and other squishy things it best not hit, or to realize that a bunch of brakelights up ahead means that it should probably get ready to start slowing down.
Will we see this technology in a new Tesla, perhaps? (Nvidia supplied Tesla with the processors that power the Model S's giant touchscreen.) Can't say for sure. But Audi did pop up on stage to show their support.
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