Back in the old days, NVIDIA’s CES keynote used to be primarily focused on the gaming sector. But with each year, that focus seems to be shifting to AI, neural networks, deep learning and self-driving cars. The new TITAN V is proof of that and so was this years’ keynote. While there were a few announcements for the gamers, the press-conference was mainly dedicated to NVIDIA’s strides in the field of AI and self-driving cars, and the Xavier SoC for self-driving cars was by far the most important announcement
This is not at all surprising because these days all the cool kids are talking about it and those who don’t will be left behind. And while the gaming sector is a growing industry, it is still worth roughly $100B. The AI and Autonomous vehicles’ industries are way more lucrative coming in at 3 and 10 Trillion dollars, respectively.
Xavier SoC for self-driving cars
Xavier, an SoC for self-driving vehicles was the most important announcement at this year’s CES keynote. Xavier will power the NVIDIA DRIVE software stack, now expanded to a trio of AI platforms for next-generation automobiles.
The Xavier SoC for self-driving cars is supposed to be the most complex system on a chip ever created, representing the work of more than 2,000 NVIDIA engineers over a four-year period, and an investment of $2 billion in research and development.
Built around a custom 8-core CPU, a 512-core Volta GPU, new deep learning and computer vision accelerators and 8K HDR video processors, all previous NVIDIA DRIVE software development will be retained.
While the technical details are still murky, according to NVIDIA:
DRIVE Xavier puts more processing power to work using less energy, delivering 30 trillion operations per second while consuming just 30 watts. It’s 15 times more energy efficient than our previous generation architecture.
Best of Three
Keeping the original NVIDIA DRIVE AV autonomous vehicle platform intact, two new platforms were unveiled namely the DRIVE IX and DRIVE AR.
DRIVE IX will provide AI assistants for both drivers and passengers, via sensors placed both inside and outside the car.
DRIVE AR on the other hand is an augmented reality SDK. This platform will fuse computer vision, computer graphics and AI. DRIVE AR will basically make your drive more interting and informative. Using augmented reality interfaces, just like in the movies, points of interest along a drive, alerts and navigation will be supported.
Xavier is the crux of the NVIDIA DRIVE Pegasus AI computing platform. Delivering the performance of a trunk-load of PCs in a form factor the size of a license plate, it’s supposed to be the first AI car supercomputer designed for fully autonomous Level 5 robotaxis.
At the heart of Pegasus are two Xavier SoCs and two NVIDIA Pascal GPUs. With more than 25 companies including Uber, Volkswagen and VW in tow, NVIDIA is slated to start testing the new platform in the first quarter of 2018. As per NVIDIA, “With an unprecedented 320 TOPS of deep learning calculations and the ability to run numerous deep neural networks at the same time, Pegasus will provide everything needed for safe autonomous driving”.