Nvidia teams up with Bosch to develop AI system for self-driving cars

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For chip makers working to capitalize on the autonomous vehicle revolution, cultivating alliances in the auto industry is just big a priority as developing processor technology that can stand out from the pack.

Nvidia Corp. marked a major victory on this front today by striking a partnership with Robert Bosch GmbH. With annual revenues exceeding $78 billion as of 2016, the German industrial giant ranks as one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers and commands a central position in the European market. As part of its new alliance with the chip maker, the companies will work to develop an autonomous navigation system for tomorrow’s self-driving vehicles.

The collaboration is set to revolve around the upcoming Xavier processor that Nvidia unveiled last September. It’s specifically geared towards the auto sector and pairs a specialized eight-core CPU with a GPU called Volta that is reportedly based on a brand new 12-nanometer design. Overall,  the chip can perform up to 20 trillion operations per second while consuming just 20 watts of power, about as much as a small light bulb.

Nvidia will help Bosch implement Xavier together with unspecified components from its lineup of deep learning software, which includes among others programming tools that could make it easier for car makers to implement their planned navigation system. The chip maker’s DriveWorks development kit covers everything from mapping to automated pedestrian detection.

The alliance with Bosch represents the latest in a series of auto sector partnerships struck by Nvidia that most notably saw Tesla Motors Inc. adopt on its Drive PX2 computing platform last year. The chip maker’s strong relationship with key car makers could provide an invaluable edge amid the intensifying competition from Intel Corp., which made headlines earlier this week after acquiring autonomous navigation provider Mobileye NV for a massive $15.4 billion.

Both companies are targeting the auto sector as part of a broader effort to capitalize on the rise of artificial intelligence that also includes the server market. Intel has long dominated this segment with to its ubiquitous Xeon processors, but Nvidia is starting to make gains thanks to an aggressive partnership strategy similar to the one it’s pursuing on the autonomous vehicle front. Late last year, for instance, the company teamed up with IBM Corp. to launch a new server that packs four of its Pascal P100 accelerators to speed up AI workloads.

Image: Nvidia