Nvidia unveils credit card-sized 'supercomputer' for portable AI

CEO wants to be the ultimate helicopter parent

Jen-Hsun Huang

Older readers may think of Nvidia as a graphics firm but, according to CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, the firm is now all-in on accelerating computing and machine learning.

"I've been in the computer industry for 30-some years and this has got to be one of the most exciting things that's happening: The ability for computers to learn, the ability for computers to write software themselves and do artificially intelligent things is revolutionizing web services," he said.

To that end he spent Tuesday showing off new hardware that the company has launched for the machine learning market. At the data center end there are new GPU accelerators aimed at easing the video and graphics workload that servers handle, and then in the afternoon the firm showed off the Jetson TX1.

This 50 x 87mm card contains a one-teraflop 256-core Maxwell GPU, a 64-bit ARM A57 CPU, and 4GB of memory, along with Ethernet and Wi-Fi. It will be available for order in the first quarter of next year with a $299 price tag, or you can get the software developer's kit and hardware later this month for $599, or $299 if you're in school.

Huang enthused that the new hardware, and the software stack Nvidia has developed to run it, would make both the practice and implementation of machine learning much easier. Training and deploying machine learning networks would be faster and he saw a host of applications for the Jetson TX1.

"One of the applications I would love to see would essentially be a flying nanny to keep an eye on your kids," he said. "When they are out playing nothing would make me feel better than to have a drone hovering above."

His kids, who could want some privacy once in a while, might disagree. ®

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