Any Driven Sunday: NVIDIA Kicks Off CES by Unveiling Tegra X1, NVIDIA DRIVE Auto Computers

by Brian Caulfield

Never come to Las Vegas with your pockets empty.

That’s why we brought along Tegra X1, a mobile super chip that packs a full teraflop of computing power into a slice of silicon no bigger than a thumbnail. How’s that for a game with high table stakes?

In the first big news of this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveiled the new 256-core chip, which uses the same Maxwell architecture deployed in the world’s top gaming graphics cards. Slated to arrive in products during the first half of the year, Tegra X1 provides more power than a supercomputer the size of a suburban family home from 15 years ago.

Next up, he showed what Tegra X1 can do by revealing NVIDIA DRIVE computers for the car.

“Your future cars will be the most advanced computers in the world,” Jen-Hsun told a crowd of more than 350 reporters, analysts and partners packed into a ballroom at The Strip’s Four Season’s Hotel. “There will be more computing horsepower inside a car than anything you own today.”

Ready to roll: next-generation cars will need gobs of computing power, power Tegra X1 is built to provide.

NVIDIA DRIVE PX is a radical step toward the era of auto-piloted cars. Powered by dual Tegra X1 processors, DRIVE PX, with inputs for 12 high-resolution camera, promises to make driving safer and more enjoyable by introducing Surround-Vision and Auto-Valet capabilities.

NVIDIA DRIVE CX is a cockpit computer that can drive next-gen infotainment systems by lighting up to nearly 17 million pixels, better than 10-times the number in current state-of-the-art cars.

Jen-Hsun offered a stunning demonstration of DRIVE PX by using his smartphone to set a virtual car loose in a photorealistic digital garage.

The car wove its way through the garage, using computer vision to find an open space. Jen-Hsun could then call it back with the touch of a button.

“When you’re done with diner you say can come back to me… and it becomes ann auto-valet,” Jen-Hsun says. “That car meanders back out and gets back to the driver.“

Jen-Hsun also showed how the NVIDIA DRIVE CX cockpit computer can run stunning next-generation digital instrument clusters and infotainment systems inside the car.

Using NVIDIA DRIVE Studio software, designers can create digital cockpits that integrate features such as navigation and infotainment with next-generation driver aids such as Surround Vision, which gives drivers a top-down 360-degree view of the car in real time. Jen-Hsun showed how DRIVE Studio lets designers sculpt razor-sharp 3D digital cockpits that mimic the look and feel of real materials, from aluminum to carbon fiber and even bamboo.

Available with either Tegra X1 or Tegra K1 processors, and complete road-tested software, the DRIVE CX can power up to 16.8 million pixels on multiple displays – more than 10 times that of current model cars.

Catching fire: Jen-Hsun showed Tegra X1 running one Epic’s landmark “Elemental” demo.

An Unreal Demo
Even without wheels, Tegra X1 packs plenty of horsepower. One highlight from the event: Jen-Hsun showed Epic Games’ Elemental demo running on a Tegra X1 mobile processor.

It’s just the latest example of how we’re erasing the lines between mobile and desktop GPUs.

The 256-core processor provides twice the performance and twice the power efficiency of its Kepler-based predecessor, Tegra K1, which debuted at last year’s CES.

A Supercomputer You Can Slide Into Your Pocket
The result is supercomputer-class performance. Tegra X1 packs more power than the fastest supercomputer of 15 years ago, ASCI Red.

Run for 10 years by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratory, ASCI Red was the first teraflops supercomputer system.

ASCI Red occupied 1,600 square feet and gulped 500,000 watts of power. By contrast Tegra X1 sips less than 15 watts of power.

Not a bad way to roll.

For more on what we’re up to at CES, visit