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Nvidia launches Tegra X1, bringing deep neural learning to self-driving cars

Mark Hachman | Jan. 6, 2015
LAS VEGAS--Move over, Tegra K1, you're already obsolete. At a Sunday night press conference, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang launched a new mobile superchip, the Tegra X1. If Nvidia has its way, the X1 will be the graphics and artificial intelligence engine for the car of tomorrow.

"End to end platform all the way from the processor to the software," Huang said of Drive CX and the Nvidia Studio software that powers it.

A more impressive demonstration, however, delved into benchmarks: X1 apparently performs roughly twice as fast as Maxwell in some benchmarks. The X1 even ran DirectX demos at 10 watts of power consumption that the ostensibly more powerful AMD-based Xbox One runs at 100 watts.

Huang didn't say anything about tablets like the Nvidia Shield, last year's showcase tablet for the K1. But one can assume that Nvidia will eventually build a next-generation tablet that includes the X1.

Huang also said the Drive platform could be used to intelligently improve driver-assist features, which currently include radar, ultrasonic, and computer-vision technologies. Increasingly, all three safety features are being replaced by camera-based technologies, which are getting better and better at detecting objects in low light. Eventually, chips like the X1 will become the foundation for self-driving cars, Huang said, complete with frequent software updates.

"We imagine all these camera around the car connected to a supercomputer inside the car," Huang said.

Huang said the PX platform can detect and identify different kinds of objects, even different types of cars — including police cars. PX will also try to match objects — is that a pedestrian? is that a speed sign? — and compare them against a database, Huang said.

To accurately sense what's around the car, however, a car must filter things out for itself, using a technology called deep learning. At present, Nvidia's Drive PX architecture is only good enough to accurately detect about 80 percent of the objects it sees, according to the ImageNet Challenge benchmark. But Huang said Nvidia has tested the technology in the field, identifying speed-limit signs and even occluded pedestrians.

Huang went on and on at his CES keynote, stretching the presentation into at least two hours. But his point was clear: Nvidia wants to power the connected car, and it believes it has the architecture to work something close to miracles.

 

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