Nvidia previews Xavier SoC with Volta GPU for self-driving cars

— 1:27 PM on September 28, 2016

Nvidia keeps plugging away at the challenging problems presented by autonomous vehicles. The green team unveiled Xavier, its latest product targeting this expanding market, at the inaugural European GPU Technology Conference this morning. Xavier is a 16-nm FinFET SoC packing eight ARM CPU cores alongside 512 next-generation Volta stream processors. The SoC also includes a novel bit of silicon Nvidia refers to as a "computer vision accelerator."

Xavier replaces Parker, Nvidia's previous ARM SoC. Parker was based on Nvidia's Pascal GPU architecture and a pair of Denver CPU cores. The exact nature of Xavier's ARM cores was not explained in the presentation. Nvidia claims Xavier, named after the leader of Marvel's X-Men mutant superhero team, can replace Drive PX 2, a development board with two Parker SoCs and two Pascal GPU chips. Nvidia claims a 20W TDP for Xavier, compared to Drive PX 2's 250W total board power.

Nvidia says its latest SoC is built using seven billion transistors, about the same number employed in the GP104 GPU inside Nvidia's GTX 1080. Nvidia claims Xavier is capable of 20 trillion operations per second (a figure Nvidia calls TOPS). Anandtech's coverage of the unveiling indicates the chip reaches this lofty throughput when performing the 8-bit integer arithmetic common in deep-learning applications. That's no surprise given this chip's likely destiny inside self-driving cars.

Nvidia says Xavier will begin sampling to automakers and research institutions, and other institutional buyers in the fourth quarter of next year.

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