NVIDIA unveils its next-generation chipset for autonomous vehicles

NVIDIA isn’t just for gaming graphics cards. The company had other news up its sleeve, including in the autonomous vehicle space. During the GTC keynote, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang announced a system-on-chip (SoC) called Drive Thor. NVIDIA says it designed the chip using the latest advances in graphics and processing to deliver 2,000 teraflops of performance while keeping costs low.

NVIDIA says Drive Thor can bring together all the various functions of vehicles – including infotainment systems, digital dashboard, sensors, parking and autonomous operation – for greater efficiency. Cars with the chipset will be able to run Linux, QNX and Android simultaneously. Given the enormous processing power that autonomous vehicle operations require, automakers can even use two of the Drive Thor chipsets in tandem, using NVLink-C2C chip-linking technology to make them work as one OS.

In addition, NVIDIA claims that the SoC marks a significant leap forward in “deep neural network accuracy.” The chipset has a Transformer Engine, a new addition to the NVIDIA GPU Tensor Core. “Transformer networks process video data as a single perceptual frame, allowing the compute platform to process more data over time,” says NVIDIA. It notes that the SoC can boost inference performance of transformer deep neural networks by up to nine times, “which is critical to supporting the massive and complex AI workloads associated with self-driving.”

The SoC follows and replaces the Drive Atlan. It will be used in vehicles whose production begins in 2025. The first customer that NVIDIA has lined up is the EV brand, which already uses Orin chipsets for level 3 automation. Meanwhile, NVIDIA has signed on two more Drive Orin partners: automakers and QCraft.

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