From Cloud to Car: How NIO Develops Intelligent Vehicles on NVIDIA A100

Electric-automaker NIO uses world-class AI infrastructure to build high-performance software-defined vehicles. 
by Jurgen Ferchau

Building next-generation intelligent vehicles requires an AI infrastructure that pushes the cutting edge.

Electric vehicle maker NIO is using NVIDIA HGX A100 to build a comprehensive data center infrastructure for developing AI-powered, software-defined vehicles. With high-performance compute, the automaker can continuously iterate on sophisticated deep learning models, creating robust autonomous driving algorithms in a closed-loop environment.

“The complex scenarios faced by mass-produced cars and the massive amount of data these fleets generate are the cornerstones of NIO’s autonomous driving capabilities,” said Yuli Bai, head of AI Platforms at NIO. “By using NVIDIA high-performance compute solutions, NIO can accelerate the path to autonomous driving.”

NIO has already launched intelligent vehicles developed on this infrastructure, such as its fully electric, intelligent flagship sedan, the ET7. Its mid-size performance sedan, the ET5 is scheduled to debut in September.

In addition to high-performance data center development, both models are built on the Adam supercomputer, powered by four NVIDIA DRIVE Orin systems-on-a-chip. These vehicles feature autonomous driving and intelligent cockpit capabilities that are continuously iterated upon and improved in the data center for a revolutionary customer experience.

Building a High-Performance AI Infrastructure With NVIDIA GPUs and Networking

The role of the data center is to ingest, curate and label massive amounts of data for AI model training at scale.

Data collection fleets generate hundreds of petabytes of data and billions of images each year. This data is then used to optimize the deep neural networks (DNNs) that will run in the vehicles.

NIO’s scalable AI infrastructure is powered by NVIDIA HGX with eight A100 Tensor Core GPUs and NVIDIA ConnectX-6 InfiniBand adapters. This scalable supercomputer cluster consists of NVME SSD servers and interconnects through the high-speed NVIDIA Quantum InfiniBand network platform.

This powerful infrastructure allows large amounts of deep learning training data to be transferred to supercomputer memory or NVIDIA A100 video memory at ultra-high speeds of up to 200Gbps.

NVIDIA HGX A100 is a high-performance server platform designed for AI scenarios, including big datasets and complicated models like those that power autonomous vehicles. It incorporates a fully optimized NVIDIA AI software stack in NGC.

The platform sets a new compute density benchmark, condensing 5 petaflops of AI performance and replaces siloed infrastructures with a single platform for a wide range of complex AI applications.

With the HGX A100, NIO is able to flexibly develop and deploy scalable AI systems. It also enables the company to increase model development efficiency by up to 20x, allowing it to launch autonomous vehicles sooner and evolve to newer, faster architectures.

Forging Ahead

NIO is already off to the races with its software-defined lineup, announcing plans to double the capacity of its plant in Hefei, China, to 240,000 vehicles per year, with a facility capable of producing up to 300,000.

As NIO scales production capabilities and continues its expansion into global markets, NVIDIA HGX is scaling with them, enabling the deployment of one of the most advanced AI platforms in the automotive industry.