NVIDIA's Powerhouse Xavier SoC With Volta GPU Now Shipping To Fuel Level 5 Autonomous Vehicles

xavier layout
Back in September 2016, NVIDIA first introduced us to a brand new ARM64 architecture called Xavier. Xavier is a custom octa-core processor architecture that features NVIDIA’s latest Volta GPU (512 CUDA cores). When Xavier was originally announced, NVIDIA expected to begin sampling in Q4 2017, with volume production slated for 2018.

Tonight, NVIDIA announced that its first samples of Xavier chips are now on the way to customers. It's been a long time coming, but NVIDIA says that Xavier is the culmination of $2 billion in research and development, along with the hard work over 2,000 engineers.

NVIDIA says that Xavier can process 30 trillion operations per second while consuming just 30 watts of power. In fact, NVIDIA's engineers have managed to get drive a 15x uplift in efficiency compared to the previous generation Parker architecture.

NVIDIA Pegasus

As we have already mentioned on HotHardware, Xavier will form the basis for NVIDIA's DRIVE Pegasus AI platform for autonomous vehicles. DRIVE PX Pegasus makes use of not one, but two Xavier SoCs to empower driverless cars with Level 5 autonomy. According to the SAE International Standard J3016, Level 5 autonomy entails "the full-time performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver".

NVIDIA's DRIVE Pegasus will be available during the second half of 2018 (samples will ship during mid-2018).

NVIDIA's DRIVE PX platforms will be backed by two new complementary software platforms: DRIVE IX and DRIVE AR. DRIVE IX is considered an "intelligent experience" SDK that will deliver AI assistants that provide feedback to both the driver and passengers using sensors located all around the vehicle. DRIVE AR, on the other hand, is an SDK focused on -- you guessed it -- augmented reality.

volvo uber xc90 1

Building on its self-driving aspirations, NVIDIA also announced that it is extending its partnership with Uber to deliver AI computing systems for autonomous vehicles. Uber's self-driving fleet currently includes Volvo XC90 crossover utility vehicles and freight trucks.

“Developing safe, reliable autonomous vehicles requires sophisticated AI software and a high- performance GPU computing engine in the vehicle,” said Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group. “NVIDIA is a key technology provider to Uber as we bring scalable self- driving cars and trucks to market.”

NVIDIA is increasingly branching out from its gaming hardware "core" to conquer other markets like autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and deep learning. This diversified portfolio, which is showing strong revenue growth, is the reason why NVIDIA stock has soared from just over $100 in January 2017 to $215 currently.