Nvidia and NXP in Heated Competition to Create Smart Cars

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【Summary】Technology companies Nvidia and NXP are both hard at work developing smart car platforms. Who will be first?

Mia Bevacqua    Dec 04, 2017 7:05 AM PT
Nvidia and NXP in Heated Competition to Create Smart Cars

Nvidia is best known for graphic cards that bring World of Warcraft to life. It's also become the go-to company for Bitcoin miners looking for GPUs that can turn electrons into money. NXP, on the other hand, is recognized for its contributions to automotive security and connectivity. A little less exciting than videogames and cryptocurrency, maybe, but that's OK.

Both companies have one thing in common: they want to build smart cars. Or, at least, the brains behind the cars. The companies separately announced plans to bring new intelligent vehicle platforms to market. 



What NXP brings to the table is the S32X automotive processing platform. According to NXP, eight of the top fifteen auto makers plan to use the S32X in future vehicles. This makes sense – NXP has been the biggest supplier of automotive chips since its acquisition of Freescale in 2015. 

NXP's ultimate goal is to have its chips involved in all aspects of a car's electronics. According to IEEE Spectrum, NXP plans to have its chips controlling everything from automatic braking to data streaming.



Nvidia has a different plan for robocar supremacy. The company's Pegasus platform is focused on driving cars – period. Like Bitcoin mining, which Nvidia is so famous for, autonomous driving takes a lot of computing power. Especially in the case of deep learning, where machines learn as they go, instead of relying on a pre-programmed agenda. 

According to the head of Nvidia's automotive business, Pegasus can do 320 trillion operations per second – the work of roughly 100 servers. This will be needed in the era of autonomy, where self-driving cars are being bombarded by lidar, radar, ultrasound, GPS. 

The days of a single ECM with a UV-light erasable EEPROM are long gone, like MySpace and the Spice Girls. Vehicle's now need parallel-processing for artificial intelligence duties. 

And the winner is...

Both companies are racing to build the car of the future, but they're going about it differently. Whereas NXP wants to help develop the entire vehicle electronics, Nvidia wants to focus on the important stuff – you know, driving. 

Right now, both platforms are still under development.  Will it be Nvidia or 

that controls the cerebrum of future cars? Only time will tell. 

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