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nVidia talks auto pilots for cars at CES 2015

by on05 January 2015 4881 times

CES 2015 – Las Vegas NV

At the Consumer Electronics Show, nVidia showed off something that was interesting, but also confusing: The Tegra X1. This is a Maxwell based version of the Tegra that sports 256 Maxwell GPU cores, an 8-core 64-Bit CPU and is capable of pushing 4k 60Hz 10-Bit video in either H.265 or VP9. This new member of the Tegra family was hailed by nVidia CEO Jen-sun Huang as the first mobile superchip for its expected performance. Of course nVidia has always like to use the term “super” when talking about new products. I can remember them trying to coin the term Super Phone when Tegra 2 hit the market.

Still from the slides shown the Tegra X1 looks to have an impressive performance envelope and puts it in a class all of its own when compared to some of the competitions’ products that are already on the market. Huang also touted compute performance of 1 TFlops. This is not bad at all for a mobile chip, but the claim that it matched the super computing power of super computers in 2000 is a little much. Overclocked Athlons and Pentium IIIs were hitting 1TFlops in that time frame as well. Still the performance is impressive for a mobile chip.

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To show off the video performance we were treated to a real-time demo of a tablet based on Tegra X1 running the Unreal Engine 4 based demo Elemental. This demo typically pulls 100+ watts on an AMD based Xbox One, but only 10 watts on the Tegra X1.

It was pretty a pretty impressive demo, but it was followed up by a disappointing comment. Huang made the comment that this kind of processing power was not needed in a phone and he quickly dove into details of where nVidia was positioning the X1: automotive.
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The X1 is all about turing the car into a super computing platform. They showed us the new Drive CX which is designed to power multiple displays inside a vehicle with rich content the demo was impressive, but perhaps a little too long for what it really does. Huang stopped the presenter multiple times to stress details that were very obvious to anyone in the industry. This made the demo drag out a little (video to follow).

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 After the video we were treated to another X1 platform, the Drive PX auto pilot car computer. This demo was also rather long winded, but interesting to say the least. The final part of the show was very lengthy and included a brief talk by nVidia partner Audi about how great working with nVidia is and what the future holds (including an auto-piloted car driving from LA to Vegas).

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In all the press conference was interesting, but a little bit of a letdown. The tech was impressive and yet positioned in a place that is not going to excite too many in the tech press or in the consumer industry. I do not think it is a terrible move by nVidia, but they could have had more details on when consumers might see this power in a personal tablet or other device instead of talking about cars that can drive themselves. This event really highlights more of what we said about CES 2015 not really having much to excite the PC crowd. In fact we heard from two sources that the majority of the GeForce team was not even going to be at CES this year while the ones that were present for the press conference were not staying. It makes us wonder what is really going on at nVidia and when the PC crowd can expect something new from them…

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(We apologize for the quality of the images and videos, it was a last minute event for us and it was all shot on a Samsung Note 4…)

Last modified on 05 January 2015
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