- NVIDIA unveiled a credit-card sized supercomputer for embedded autonomous devices and the IoT.
- The new NVIDIA Jetson TX1 is the first embedded computer designed for AI applications.
- The move follows the January launch of the NVIDIA DRIVE PX, an embedded AI computer for self-driving cars.
- NVIDIA is differentiating from large AI players such as Google, IBM and Facebook by focusing on embedded systems.
NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) unveiled a credit-card sized module that harnesses the power of machine learning to enable a new generation of smart, autonomous machines that can learn. The device aims to efficiently add machine learning to drones, robots, surveillance and law enforcement systems, and autonomous vehicles. The move follows the launch of 'NVIDIA DRIVE PX' at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, a powerful self-driving car computer designed to add the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to real-world cars.
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The new NVIDIA Jetson TX1 module will open the way to a new wave of millions of smart devices. The examples given in the NVIDIA announcement include drones that don't just fly by remote control, but navigate their way through a forest for search and rescue; compact security surveillance systems that don't just scan crowds, but identify suspicious activity; and robots that don't just perform tasks, but tailor them to individuals' habits.
"Jetson TX1 will enable a new generation of incredibly capable autonomous devices," said Deepu Talla, vice president and general manager of the Tegra business at NVIDIA. "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."
According to NVIDIA, the TX1, which exploits machine learning to "perform complex tasks such as recognizing images, processing conversational speech, or analyzing a room full of furniture and finding a path to navigate across it," is the first embedded computer designed to process deep neural networks.
Top Silicon Valley tech giants are spending billions on neural networks, machine learning, and other AI endeavors. IBM (NYSE:IBM) recently expanded its AI platform Watson with new AI tools in the Watson Developer Cloud. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is becoming one of the most advanced AI research centers in the world, and Facebook's AI developments have accelerated to the point that AI will surely shape the way humans interact with computers. Alphabet Inc-A (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is open-sourcing its advanced machine learning system TensorFlow.
At an event in San Francisco, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang pointed out that, by offering the TX1 to companies without the resources of the Silicon Valley giants, NVIDIA is trying to democratize machine learning. "The architecture of the computer is fundamentally changing and it's changing right in front of us," Huang said.
The Jetson TX1 can achieve one teraflop of performance, networks via Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, consumes under 10 watts, and ships with Linux installed. The device, which includes a Tegra X1 processor with ARM's high-end Cortex-A57 CPU cores and a 256-core Maxwell GPU, 4 GB of DRAM, and 16GB of NAND flash, will launch in early 2016 at $299 (in quantities of 1,000 or more) from distributors around the world. A $599 development is available for pre-order in the US.
"NVIDIA's Jetson TX1 is so powerful and easy to use, we decided to base MIT's robotics systems and science course around it," said Sertac Karaman, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Jetson TX1 is a significant advance in moving machine learning applications from research into the real world," said Ovum Principal Analyst Michael Azoff. "It has uses that range from artificial intelligence-assisted robots, to advanced systems in automobiles, and to Internet of Things-connected intelligent machines. The ecosystem around Jetson will accelerate the transfer of AI from lab to real-world machines."
NVIDIA bets on AI and machine learning, with the launch of Jetson TX1, and is differentiating itself from the giant players in the field - such as Google, IBM, and Facebook - by bringing AI technologies to embedded systems. NVIDIA is the leader in the embedded graphic accelerators for visual computing and gaming market, and now it wants to become the leader in the embedded AI accelerators for autonomous and IoT-connected devices market. It seems likely that AI and learning systems will dominate the computing market in the next decade and beyond, and therefore NVIDIA seems well-positioned for future growth. Long term investors should be bullish.