The chip company is making a major push into the automotive space.
Nvidia has announced a spate of partnerships with different automakers from around the world in advance of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week. The company is well-known in the gaming and artificial intelligence worlds and has been making significant moves into the automotive space in recent years.
The partnerships are being formed with Mercedes-Benz, Foxconn, Hyundai Motor Group, and others. Nvidia supplies these companies with various different technologies. We've seen the chip company's technology used extensively in different automotive applications in recent months. The ultra-realistic Rimac Nevera configurator runs on Nvidia tech, along with the Nvidia DRIVE architecture being used in the Lucid Air and the upcoming Volvo EX90 for autonomous driving.
Automakers are realizing it's easier and cheaper to work with industry experts rather than create their own tech from scratch.
For those who don't know, outside companies that supply to OEMs consist of Tier 1 companies that work directly with the manufacturer, Tier 2 companies that work with Tier 1 companies, and Tier 3 companies that work with Tier 2 companies.
It's a cascading system, and Nvidia sees itself somewhere in between, at least according to Dan Shapiro, vice president of Nvidia's automotive wing,
"We're not like a Tier 2 chip supplier - that's not how we operate. We do make chips that Tier 1s integrate into ECUs, and that go into cars. But we tend to have direct relationships with the automakers. We do a lot of collaborative engineering and product development with them."
This collaborative engineering and product development is seeing some exciting projects come to life. The company has been working with Mercedes for years, with the German manufacturer planning on using Nvidia DRIVE technology in new vehicles. Nvidia and Mercedes also just announced a "digital first" planning process for the automaker's Rastatt, Germany plant that needs to be overhauled entirely for upcoming electric vehicle production.
This is similar to a project announced in 2021 with BMW. Using Nvidia Omniverse tech, engineers will create a 3D version of the factory, allowing them to review and optimize different parts digitally instead of testing in the real world.
This will save time and money and will eventually be rolled out to many other Mercedes factories worldwide, connecting them into one large synchronized network.
Foxconn is also planning on integrating Nvidia DRIVE Orin into ECUs that manufacturers around the world will utilize. The software will be used in many vehicles' central nervous systems, powerful enough to handle various applications and deep neural networks that run simultaneously in autonomous cars. In this way, Nvidia will work as a Tier 2 supplier, but it will allow it to scale up its efforts to meet the growing industry demand for the Orin software.
Finally, companies like Hyundai, Polestar, and BYD plan to integrate the company's GeForce NOW cloud gaming system into vehicles. The goal is to entertain occupants either in the rear of the vehicle while it's moving or in the front when the vehicle is parked.
Now, this feature has been controversial in recent years, but unless some major legislation changes come for this feature it's inevitable that more automakers will continue to integrate gaming into vehicles.