A Super Brain Under Bonnet

Nvidia, best known for supplying graphics processors, had started adapting its chips for its cars a decade ago.

The car of the future will be the most powerful computer you will ever own, packing the processing power of a supercomputer into a box the size of a car stereo, according to American chip maker Nvidia.Nvidia is best known for supplying powerful graphics processors for video game consoles and laptop computers, but ten years ago the company started adapting its chips for use in cars. The third generation Audi A8, which launched in 2009, was the first car to use an Nvidia graphics processor to power its 3D navigation system display.

Today, there are 8m cars on the road with Nvidia’s processors inside ­ including models from Telsa, Volkswagen, Honda and Mercedes as well as Audi ­ but Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive at Nvidia, claims the company is just getting started. “We have contracts with a lot of automakers, so over the next several years we’re going to grow that number by over 25m,“ he said. “Younger first-time car buyers have grown up with iPhones and iPads, so the expectation is that if you’re going to spend this much money on a car, the electronics in the car should be at least as good as your tablet.“

Shapiro said that a huge amount of craftsmanship goes into making cars, from the chassis and the headlights to the leather interior, but traditionally car companies have neglected to put the same effort into their computer systems. However, increased demand for high quality digital displays inside cars ­ including dashboard navigation systems, virtual instrument clusters and rear-seat entertainment systems has pushed automakers to look beyond their traditional suppliers to obtain a technological edge.

The Tesla Model S, for example, features a 17-inch touchscreen display in the middle of the dashboard, which replaces almost every physical button in the car. It can be used to control everything from the air conditioning to the suspension settings and even the sunroof. Business Insider

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