At the Computer Electronics Show early this year, NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) took the wraps off its Drive PX 2 Platform, designed for automakers exploring the self-driving car market. According to NVIDIA, more than 80 carmakers, suppliers, and university research departments are incorporating the platform into their vehicles and research.
However, NVIDIA is hardly resting on its autonomous vehicle laurels. It recently released Parker, its latest processor designed to “power the next generation of autonomous vehicles.” In addition to self-driving cars, the new processor also supports infotainment centers.
The new Parker processor can be the brains of an autonomous vehicle, providing “deep learning, hardware-level virtualization for tighter design integration, a hardware-based safety engine for reliable fault detection and error processing,” according to the company. NVIDIA asserted that it has tested 50% to 100% faster than competitors’ mobile processors, though it did not mention who those competitors were.
NVIDIA’s efforts to expand beyond its dominant market position in graphics processing units (GPU) for gaming-ready PCs, tablets, and other devices couldn’t come at a better time. Some of the world’s largest automakers are committed to bringing “Knight Rider”-like vehicles to the masses, and industry-watchers expect they will do just that.
According to one estimate, there will be 6 million “fully autonomous” vehicles on the road by 2025. Add in another 36 million “partially autonomous” vehicles forecast to be in use by then, and the revenue potential for NVIDIA is enormous. Its stock has skyrocketed 90% this year, but its ownership of the GPU market, its virtual reality push, and its early leadership position in autonomous driving will reward shareholders for years to come.
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Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned.