NVIDIA WANTS to be all up inside next-gen robots as Team Green has launched its Jetson Xavier computer aimed at bringing more processing guts to drones, self-driving cars and smart machines.
The SoC is essentially a love child of Nvidia's Xavier Drive platform for, you guessed it, autonomous vehicles, and it's Jetson TX2 platform for drones robots and other devices that make use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
Nvidia claims Jetson Xavier is "the world's first computer designed specifically for robotics" which is a tad grandiose. But it backs up such claims with plenty of SoC horsepower, with Jetson Xavier sporting nine billion transistors to deliver more than 30 trillion operations per second while apparently only using a third of the energy a light bulb sucks up.
That's arguably enough power to make even the dumbest of machines a bit smart.
Jetson Xavier is not just a compact powerhouse, it also has six different processors to take care of AI abilities. While an octa-core ARM CPU does the normal processing things, a Volta Tensor Core GPU takes care of machine learning, a brace of Nvidia deep learning chips helps augment rigorous AI training, and processors for image, video and vision processing are present and correct.
Nvidia is touting the SoC as being able to process dozens of algorithms concurrently to enable real-time processing of sensor information and data relating to mapping, location and odometry - the stuff that's handy for driverless cars and robots not on specifically pre-programmed routes or tasks.
With all this tech onboard, Nvidia's claims that its a computer designed for robotics is lent some credence. And leather jacket-sporting Nvidia founder and chief exec Jensen Hung reckons there's a heck of a lot of potential for Jetson Xavier and AI tech.
"AI is the most powerful technology force of our time," said Huang. "Its first phase will enable new levels of software automation that boost productivity in many industries. Next, AI, in combination with sensors and actuators, will be the brain of a new generation of autonomous machines. Someday, there will be billions of intelligent machines in manufacturing, home delivery, warehouse logistics and much more."
Nvidia's Jetson Xavier SoC will be made available to developers in August priced a $1,299 (around £970).
While the idea of smart robots might have the likes of Bill Gates and bearded opinion-spouter Steve Wozniak wringing their hands over the rise of the machines amid sips of poo water, Nivida looks to doing a collective shrug and soldering ahead with its AI tech, which it looks to make more accessible with its Isaac Robotics software that'll play nice with Jetson Xavier.
Isaac will essentially give developers with access to Jetson Xavier a toolkit on which to build smart software and systems without needing to build algorithms from scratch.
We're probably a long way from killer robots and android armies, but smart machines are likely to be more prolific sooner than later, and we can expect to see Nvidia chips at their core. µ
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