Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

Summary: At CES 2011, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed up at the Audi keynote speech to demonstrate how the new Tegra 2 chip would be embedded in next-generation vehicles.

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TOPICS: Tablets, Google, Hardware
13

CES 2011

LAS VEGAS — In a surprise twist to a keynote speech by Audi chairman Rupert Stadler, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed up to explain how the company's just-announced Tegra 2 processor would be used in the multimedia platform of the company's next-generation vehicles.

Hot off the announcement of the LG Optimus 2X, which Huang himself called a "super phone," Nvidia is already moving to work its marquee chip into high-end tablet computers and now, cars.

“The result is the full integration of a traditional automobile environment and the emerging mobile industry,” Stadler said. “We are redefining what it means to be a really fast computer.”

Stadler said that consumers are demanding “all the Internet has to offer,” but until recently, the auto industry didn't have the capability.

But the massive growth of connectivity as a priority for the consumer electronics industry -- TVs, computers, phones, tablets and yes, even cars -- brings that software expertise to a world where mechanical engineers are king.

At the center of it is Audi's MMI ("multimedia interface") platform, a services platform that offers safety resources, infotainment and more, powered by Tegra. Like Ford's Microsoft-made Sync, MMI unifies the car’s technological features and its driver, with voice recognitionm Google-powered voice search and dynamic maps.

“We believe we have invented the most responsive, most intuitive interface out there,” he said. “[But] the best interface is only half the battle. We wanted the best interface to offer the best information.”

But it goes beyond the little display in your dashboard. In fact, it could very well replace the dash entirely with a digital version.

Huang said a Tegra-powered MMI could power “next-generation digital cockpits,” rendering meters, dials and gauges in real time to appear like the real thing in glass, wood or metal.

Like this:

“If things are presented more realistically, they require less attention [of the driver],” Stadler said. ”Software plays a key role in harnessing the power of this.”

For the auto industry, it's a shot at more rapid innovation.

“The automotive technology platform until now has been more or less constrained by vehicle life cycles, which has been six or seven years,” Stadler said. “Even if the interior after 100,000 miles is flawless, the technology in the cabin is [old].”

For the tech industry, it's a chance to expand to a new environment entirely.

“The result is the full integration of a traditional automobile environment and the emerging mobile industry,” Stadler said. “We are redefining what it means to be a really fast computer.”

Want to know more about Audi's push for smarter car tech? Head over to our sister site SmartPlanet for a complete report.

Topics: Tablets, Google, Hardware

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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13 comments
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  • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

    "Huang said a Tegra-powered MMI could power ?next-generation digital cockpits,? rendering meters, dials and gauges in real time to appear like the real thing in glass, wood or metal."

    . . . or you could buy real gauges . . .

    In any case - would the extra expense be worth it? And could we count on it to remain stable and reliable??
    CobraA1
    • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

      @CobraA1 <br>Funny that you mention that. THe Lexus LFA has these gauges already, because regular analog gauges cant keep pace with the engine in the LFA. Watch this video and see what I mean, the comment is at 2.44 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tFPF6M5PLo" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tFPF6M5PLo</a>
      Rick_K
      • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

        @Rick_K Look for the Amuse R34 Skyline vid on youtube, watch closely the RPM gauge. It goes all the way to the redline in 3 hop.
        Tommy S.
    • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

      @CobraA1

      Reliability and stability is my concern. It's over 3000 now to replace a computer that controls some basic items. Throw this bad boy in your car and you're looking at 2-3 times that. Let's keep cars the way they were intended to be...for driving! Do we need anymore distractions while driving? Government tells me I can't have a cell phone in my hand while driving but I can have a HUD with 16million colors and "REAL" gauges! What have I been looking at the last 20 years..."FAKE" gauges?
      Rob.sharp
  • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

    Nope. As I am not buying another car.
    james347
  • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

    get real, if the thing fails you will be stuck.
    desilvav
    • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

      @desilvav Besides, I don't think they will factor the lower cost of a digital version and make a small final price in the cars. If you just look how much a navigation system adds on the existing cars, you'll realize, this will benefit only the car makers bottom line.
      FuzzyIce
  • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

    Cars? Those who are visually impaired should forget about cars and go with tablets instead. :)
    Grayson Peddie
  • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

    I want something similar to the Skyline R35 center display. A full blown race metric system. Every temp sensor, pressure sensor, boost graphs, torque split graphs, injection mapping options, lap times, g force graphs, fuel consumption graphs and many other things.
    Tommy S.
  • not new

    digital dashes came out in about 1985. I support a lot of high end car shops. You don't want to hear what they have to say about a getting a digital dash repaired.
    mswift@...
  • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

    Another product middle class Americans will not be able to afford thanks to now having "super" computers in my car...
    jasonemmg
  • RE: Forget tablets: your next car will be powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

    When will the first "KITT" (Knight Industries Two Thousand) from Knight Rider be manufactured by an auto company????

    I'd like to sleep late every morning... until the car parks itself and my place of work just before 9am or other destination.
    jasonemmg
  • ABOUT TIME CARS LEFT THE DARK AGES!!

    Pilots are always far ahead of the backwards thinking car industry (first to use full synthetic oil, first to use platinum plugs, etc. etc). Full glass cockpits have been around for years in airplanes and the auto makers are just now getting a clue. Get real people, if the computer goes down then i can add another one for $500 and hack my own version of Linux on it anyway. Besides, the computer going down won't hurt anyone..."Oh no, my digital computer gauge is down...am i doing 35 or 95mph?..DOH!" - brother. Sure, if they make it proprietary like Mac then it will be trash. But if it's Linux based then you won't have to worry about reliability. I do believe the first few models that come out won't have an easy to remove docking station so that will be horrible. But give it time and enough complaints and they will be built a glass dash with an easy to replace tablet PCs. The best technology always wins, it just takes a while for the Mac and Windows stuff to get out of the way before Linux takes over the world. ;-)
    sjschillo