2013 Tesla Model S: Graphical Brains
December 09, 2013
This year's L.A. Auto Show added an extra day for something called the Connected Car Expo. The Expo put a spotlight on emerging technology in the automotive industry and I was fortunate enough to be asked to help moderate a few small discussion groups. One of the first attendees I encountered was Samuel Tao, Director of Product Management, Automotive from Nvidia.
Nvidia is well known for making high-end graphics processors for PCs. As we got to talking about how Nvidia fits into the automotive space, Samuel mentioned that they make the graphics chip for Audi, Lamborghini and the Tesla Model S.
Then he pulled the above-pictured visual computing module out of his pocket and placed it on the table. He said that's the one that runs the Model S's massive touchscreen. At that point, I was wondering what else he had in his pockets, but I didn't ask.
He also mentioned that there are actually two of these processors in the Tesla. The other one handles the gauge cluster. They went with two separate units for the sake of back-up redundancy. I mentioned our earlier issues with the screen needing a restart, but we haven't had any issues since then. He didn't seem all that surprised, but was glad it was working as it should.
A lot of times it's easy to think that a manufacturer produces everything in house. As with most carmakers, Tesla seeks specialists in the field to utilize systems that have already been proven.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 12,250 miles