NVIDIA Jetson TX1 Brings Supercomputer Performance To Autonomous Drones, Vehicles

Jetson TX1 module hand
NVIDIA may be a graphics powerhouse when it comes to add-in boards for desktops and integrated graphics for notebooks, but the company isn’t putting all of its eggs into one basket. It also tiptoes into supercomputing efforts, automotive technology (the company’s Tegra X1 powers the 2016 Audi TT’s “virtual cockpit” gauge cluster), and even SoCs for mobile devices.

NVIDIA is expanding its reach into new markets with Jetson TX1, a new platform that has a footprint smaller than a credit card and is destined for autonomous devices. Aerial drone leader DJI was already moving down this past using NVIDIA hardware — a Tegra K1 SoC to be exact — with Manifold PC which pairs with its Matrice 100 drone.

NVIDIA’s own homegrown Jetson TX1 makes use 64-bit ARM A57 cores and a 256-core Maxwell-based GPU capable of 1 TFLOP/s. You’ll also find 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM on board along with 16GB of eMMC storage. Rounding out the specs is an 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2x2) a single GbE connection and support for Bluetooth. The actual Jetson TX1 developer kit will include the Jetson TX1, a developer board and a 5MP camera.

But where NVIDIA see its real advantage, at least compared to larger players like Intel is a performance-per-watt (the platform consumes less than 10W), which it has outlined in the following charts:

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Jetson TX1 is designed to use deep neural net training and applies what it “sees” in the field with its cameras to identify objects and allow for a new superclass of autonomous products ranging from drones to robots that can navigate disaster areas too dangerous for humans. And best of all, these smart devices can actually “learn” on the job.

There’s even place for Jetson TX1 for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems in vehicles to help facilitate autonomous vehicles. As we’ve seen, autonomous vehicle technology is hot these days, with Tesla Motors recently fielding its Autopilot beta for Model S sedans to predictable results. Even the world’s largest automobile manufacturer, Toyota, has finally seen the light by investing $1 billion into the technology for future vehicles.

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NVIDIA wants to provide a platform for intelligent, autonomous drones

“Jetson TX1 will enable a new generation of incredibly capable autonomous devices,” said Deepu Talla, VP and GM of NVIDIA’s Tegra unit. “They will navigate on their own, recognize objects and faces, and become increasingly intelligent through machine learning. It will enable developers to create industry-changing products.”

A Jetson TX1 developer kit will be available on the retail market (Amazon, Newegg, Microcenter, etc.) for $599, while educational customers will be able take advantage of a much lower price tag of $299. Preorders open up on November 12th, while kits will begin shipping on November 16th.