NVIDIA in the Driver’s Seat?

When you think of NVIDIA, most consumers have thoughts of advanced graphics chips for PC gaming.  Its GeForce line has long been heralded for its realistic 3D visuals, screaming performance and fast interactive game play.  That type of innovation is what NVIDIA has been known to deliver.  So what’s a graphics processing unit (GPU) doing inside the car?

The Car: The Most Advanced Consumer Electronics Device Around

It’s not that odd of pairing if you think about it. Look at all of the changes happening in automotive electronics.  Behind the steering wheel, the mechanical gauges are being replaced with digital screens.  The center console is no longer the series of nobs and switches to control a CD player, stereo and air conditioning, but rather a large touchscreen display that lets you manage many of the car’s systems.

These new displays are also becoming a key safety element of the vehicle.  Information is being collected throughout the automobile and from external conditions and fed to the driver so they are fully aware of the car’s health and potential hazards on the road.  Advancements in auto electronics are enhancing the driver’s ability to navigate a vehicle while making that journey more comfortable and entertaining for the passengers.

Given these changes, it makes a total sense for NVIDIA to bring its technology to the car.  These advanced displays demand instant-on performance and rich 2D and 3D user interfaces.  NVIDIA has been providing those features to gaming for years. 

NVIDIA: A Welcomed Addition

For those that follow semiconductors, you probably already know NVIDA has been catering to profession and science markets for some time.  They have been making steady inroads in automotive as well, which was very apparent at this year’s consumer electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas.  NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 processors are making its way into Audis, BMWs and the upcoming Model S form Tesla.  Check out NVIDIA’s automotive page to read more on their automotive focus. 

NVIDIA has some formidable competitors in automotive including Freescale, Infineon, Renesas and Texas Instruments.  These companies have been focusing on the auto market for decades so the competition will be tough.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with all of these companies over the years as Spansion brings its NOR Flash memory solutions to market to support these continual advancements in automotive.  It is an exciting segment and NVIDIA is a welcomed addition.

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