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Driverless cars could get more reliable with Nvidia's Tegra X1

Agam Shah | Jan. 5, 2015
Nvidia is betting that its new "mobile super chip" will help achieve truly self-driving cars, reflecting a new direction for the company from its traditional market in mobile devices.

Nvidia's Tegra X1 will be used in the Drive CX car platform, which Huang called the "world's most advanced cockpit" for vehicles. It has two Tegra X1 chips, and will help make navigation more interactive. The Tegra X1 will also bring 4K video to cars. Car makers can use the Drive CX to develop in-car navigation or infotainment features.

For autonomous cars, the ability to be situationally aware and recognize objects is most important, said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.

The Tegra X1 scores in that capability, and Nvidia worked overtime in bringing Maxwell to Tegra chips, Moorhead said.

"It's really important to have that level of object recognition. That's where Nvidia is going to shine," Moorhead said.

One possible partner for X1 could be Tesla, which is always looking for the latest and greatest in cars.

"Tesla wholeheartedly is working on productizing an autonomous car," Moorhead said.

The thermal characteristics of the Tegra X1 are the same as K1, so there's nothing to stop the chip from going into mobile devices. But growth in tablets has tapered off, and automotive and other markets are more attractive growth markets for Nvidia, Moorhead said.

Beyond automobiles, Nvidia could use the chips in robots that are highly dependent on object recognition, though the company hasn't talked about it, Moorhead said.

"I could see it playing into that market," Moorhead said.


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