by Wendy Qi
LAS VEGAS, the United States, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- NVIDIA, the computer chip manufacturer best known for its high performance graphics processors, is looking to make further inroads with the automobile industry by integrating its new Tegra 3 mobile processors in upcoming vehicle models.
At the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), NVIDIA and Audi announced that all models from the German auto manufacturer in 2013 will use Tegra 3 quad-core processors to power their in-car digital systems.
These processors, which are traditionally found in smartphones and tablets, will support the vehicle's digital systems at lower energy rates and also allow for shorter lead times in getting concepts to market.
In addition to powering infotainment systems that allow for web browsing and Google Earth integrations, they will also give automakers the ability to replace traditional dashboards with instrument cluster systems, or digital dashboards.
"By leveraging technology from the very latest smartphones and tablets, Audi is leading the market with innovations that enhance safety and make driving more enjoyable," said Ricky Hudi, the company's chief executive engineer, at Audi's official conference at CES.
For Audi, this means that they will be able to offer cars like the next-generation A3 model beginning in 2013, which features an integrated touchpad system and mounted monitor with the ability to render 3D imaging. Current 2012 Audi vehicles house the Tegra 2 processor.
"It's a natural progression with people getting so accustomed to mobile and expecting it from your automobiles as well. Partnering really closely with automotive OEMs enable us to help them realize the driver experience they're looking to deliver," said Phillip Hughes, NVIDIA's director of automotive sales and business development, in an interview with Xinhua.
In addition to Audi, Tesla and Lamborghini will also be including the newest NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor in upcoming models. At this year's CES, Lamborghini is showcasing the Lamborghini Aventador, a nearly 700 horsepower vehicle with the capability of going from 0 to 60 miles per mile in less than five seconds.
"NVIDIA technology is enabling us to do more with our vehicles and gives our cars the ability to have the technology you'd expect from a car like this," said Kelly Snyder, an event manager with Lamborghini, to Xinhua. The retail price point for the Lamborghini Aventador starts at 382,000 U.S. dollars.
More than just powering the car's digital experiences, however, integrating NVIDIA's processors will help the auto manufacturer build better cars by reducing the power to weight ratio that is a key consideration in manufacturing higher performing cars.
"By moving elements like the odometer to a digital dashboard platform, it reduces the power to weight ratio that is so critical to the design and manufacturing of automobiles like the Lamborghini," explained Snyder.
NVIDIA also expects that the integration of these processors will bring the development cycle of the automotive industry up to speed with the consumer electronics industry through Virtual Computing Modules (VCMs) powered by the Tegra 3. These VCMs allow auto manufacturers to quickly prototype and ship consumer technology innovations to automobiles, reducing a development lifecycle that once took seven years, to roughly a year.
"At the end of the day, our goal is to help automotive OEMs bridge the gap between OEM and consumer technology," said Hughes.