by Bob Sherbin

The seven-year lag it once took for consumer-electronics technology to find its way into your car is being cut to about a year, through a deep collaboration between Audi and NVIDIA.

Audi Press Conference - NVIDIA @ CES 2012

At Audi’s press conference at CES 2012, Ricky Hudi, head of electrics/electronics development, announced that the Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processor — which powers tablets and phones that are just hitting store shelves – will be in next year’s Audi models.

Consumer-electronics products have a lightning-fast development cycle. But it generally takes years to get new technology into cars, due to a meticulous engineering process that requires many thousands of parts to be seamlessly integrated.

“Audi stands for progressive luxury and our new aim is to adopt the benchmarks of consumer electronics,” Hudi said. He called NVIDIA a “strategic partner” that is enabling this to happen.

Coming on stage as Audi’s only guest, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said that the secret behind the extraordinarily fast incorporation of NVIDIA’s latest technology into Audi is NVIDIA’s Visual Computing Module (VCM). The 3×3-inch automotive-grade board contains a Tegra processor, memory and I/O controller, as well as a connector, which enable it to be easily integrated into the vehicle.

“Audi is the first car company in the world to keep up with consumer electronics,” Huang said. Gesturing to the VCM being held by Hudi, he added, “What you’re seeing is the latest and greatest architecture from NVIDIA. It’s truly unbelievable for a car company to move this fast.”

Tegra 3’s ultra-low power consumption is one of its key attractions to Audi because it translates to lower fuel consumption. Just as the processor’s fifth “ninja” core enables mobile devices to stay updated when they’re turned off, it will enable cars to sync data – such as music, map destinations or weather forecasts—even when the engine’s switched off.

Hudi called VCM a great example of the kind of collaboration that stems from the companies’ six-year extensive collaboration.