We've been hearing lots of nuggets of information on Volta, NVIDIA's next generation GPU architecture, and now the company has just pushed its first Volta-based product out with the announcement of Xavier, its new supercomputer designed for autonomous cars.
NVIDIA unveiled Xavier out of the blue at its GPU Technology Conference in Amsterdam, with the Volta-based system-on-a-chip wicked fast, thanks to the new 512 cores from the next-gen Volta architecture. Volta allows the Xavier chip to support dual 8K HDR video inputs, with NVIDIA saying in the past that Volta would be much more memory bandwidth efficient, and smaller than previous designs.
Xavier also supports NVLink thanks to the Volta GPU, with the GPU being joined by IBM's upcoming Power9 chips, with both being installed into the U.S. Department of Energy's Summit supercomputer in 2018. NVLink is 7-10x faster than PCIe 3.0, so the Summit supercomputer will be a huge chunk faster than ever thanks to NVIDIA's new NVLink tech.
Xavier is powered by a custom 8-core CPU, as well as a new computer vision accelerator, which NVIDIA says is the most advanced chip it has ever developed. NVIDIA's new Xavier has 20 TOPS (trillion operations per second) and consumes just 20W, with 7 billion transistors, the 16nm chip is efficient - teasing that Volta should be a very efficient GPU when it hits consumer graphics cards in the future.
NVIDIA explains: "A single Xavier AI processor will be able to replace today's Drive PX 2 configured with dual mobile SoCs and dual discrete GPUs-at a fraction of the power consumption". Considering NVIDIA only unveiled Drive PX 2 at CES 2016 in January, powered by a 12-core CPU and two Pascal-based GPUs, the new Xavier chip is a mighty leap indeed.
The new Xavier chips will be shipped to carmakers in Q4 2017, so we're still a while away from seeing them materialize into the real-world and start driving our cars for us.