Silicon Valley Meets Detroit: NVIDIA and Tesla Motors Recognized

by Danny Shapiro

They may have wheels, but when it comes to delivering the latest apps, cars couldn’t keep up with smartphones. Until now.

In the latest example of how Silicon Valley and the auto industry are converging, NVIDIA was honored in Detroit Monday as one of the finalists for the Automotive News PACE Award for Information Technology in recognition of our Tegra Visual Computing Module (VCM).

PACEOur VCM is a game changer because it lets automakers – who need years to design new cars –integrate the latest mobile technology.

There can be no better example of this than the Tesla Model S, which uses two Tegra processors, one to power the digital instrument panel and another for the sedan’s 17-inch touchscreen.

The VCM does more than just provide a rich graphical interface. It gives Tesla Motors the ability to update the software and hardware powering those pixels quickly.

During development of the Model S, Tesla planned to use our Tegra 2 processor for the touchscreen, but when the Tegra 3 was introduced, Tesla’s engineers could swap it in and launch the car with our latest hardware, rather than waiting for the next model to come out to use our latest processor.

The VCM means consumers don’t have to wait years for new technology, either. Tesla is also able to update the VCM wirelessly along with the other controllers in the car, allowing the car to  get better with age.

It’s a collaboration that netted Tesla the Automotive News PACE Innovation Partnership Award.

This is the first time that the Innovation Partnership Award has been awarded to an automaker and supplier both based in Silicon Valley.

“The NVIDIA team is bringing our expertise in computing to the automotive industry and I’m proud to accept this award on their behalf,” said Rob Csongor, vice president and general manager for NVIDIA’s automotive business. “Tesla is a terrific partner and we’re glad to share in their innovative spirit.”

“Collaboration is key to delivering innovative solutions and we’re very proud of what we accomplished with NVIDIA and delivered in the Model S,” said JB Straubel, Tesla co-founder and CTO. “Tesla is committed to working with partners to bring an unparalleled ownership experience to our customers.”

“Our hats are off to Tesla,” said Rob. “We can’t wait to see what our automotive customers do with the next generation of NVIDIA technology as the car has become the ultimate mobile device.”

NVIDIA’s Tegra VCM is now being used by other automakers including Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and Mini.