NVIDIA reveals its next-gen chipset for autonomous vehicles

The Drive Thor SoC will first appear in 2025 models.

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NVIDIA's Drive Thor system-on-chip
NVIDIA

NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference isn't only about 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 advancements in graphics and processing to provide 2,000 teraflops of performance, all while keeping costs down.

NVIDIA says that Drive Thor can unify all the various functions of vehicles — including infotainment, the digital dashboard, sensors, parking and autonomous operation — for greater efficiency. Vehicles with the chipset will be able to run Linux, QNX and Android simultaneously. Given the vast processing power that autonomous vehicle operations require, automakers can even use two of the Drive Thor chipsets in tandem by employing a NVLink-C2C chip interconnect technology to have them running a single operating system.

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 perception frame, enabling the compute platform to process more data over time," NVIDIA says. It noted that the SoC can boost inference performance of transformer deep neural networks by up to nine times, "which is paramount for supporting the massive and complex AI workloads associated with self driving."

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The SoC follows NVIDIA's Drive Orin chipset and it replaces Drive Atlan. It will be used in vehicles that go into production starting in 2025. The first customer NVIDIA has lined up is Geely-owned EV brand Zeekr. Meanwhile, NVIDIA has signed up two more Drive Orin partners: automakers Xpeng and QCraft. 

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