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NVIDIA Unveils First Mobile Supercomputer

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Posted March 26, 2014 by Josh Jackson in Hardware

Supercomputers for everyone! That may be a huge overstatement, but NVIDIA is definitely making the possibility closer to a reality with the release of their Jetson TK1. The tiny board sports the same architecture found in the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratories even though it runs at a much slower pace than it’s gargantuan brother. NVIDIA said that the board was designed for advanced robotics (autonomous cars) but also mentioned the idea of the board showing up in quirky projects. At first glance, this seems like a huge thing for the DIY (do it yourself) community, but there is a lot of competition for NVIDIA to find a place for this board.

DIY enthusiasts love boards like the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi for their projects. The boards are inexpensive, compact in size and fairly easy to program since they use Linux and simple program languages like Python. While a $192 might sound like a great deal for a supercomputer, that price is a little steep when compared to the $40 cost of a Raspberry Pi. The size of the NVIDIA board is also about double the size of other boards, making it harder to fit in smaller projects. Not to mention, the Jetson TK1 uses the NVIDIA VisionWorks toolkit which could be more complicated than the programming languages used elsewhere. This doesn’t mean the board is incapable, or doesn’t have the ability to do impressive things, but it does mean that unless consumers are very experienced programmers, it’s likely this board isn’t meant for them. However, in spite of all this doom and gloom there is a very big reason to be excited about this release.

The Jetson TK1 will probably revolutionize the automated world as we know it. We already have autonomous cars, but this device would make owning one far easier for the average citizen. Drones that deliver packages on their own will be far more cost effective to design with this board powering the commands and we could even see more automated homes like the one in Smart House. (Hopefully without the overprotective holographic mom!) If a consumer has the money and expertise, there’s no doubt that this board won’t disappoint, but it looks like it will fit far better in the industry niche rather than the individual DIY one. The nice thing is the industry sells to consumers and that’s where we will likely begin seeing the technological advances of this board in our everyday lives.




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