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Mar 26, 2014

NVIDIA Jetson TK1 Developer Kit, a $192 / €192 Mobile Supercomputer

For a mobile processor, the Tegra K1 is pretty overpowered, and because NVIDIA itself is well aware of that, it decided to use it for a new type of supercomputer: the embedded supercomputer.

Granted, that's not the way NVIDIA phrased it, since it described the new product, called NVIDIA Jetson TK1, as a developer kit. Still, the Santa Clara, California-based company did mention that, among other things, the Jetson TK1 should be used in the "rugged and industrial embedded market." The actual list of potential applications is quite long in fact, including human-computer interface and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), computational photography, robotics, and augmented reality. Ultimately, NVIDIA was thinking of robots that would navigate through any place, or about machinery that would help medics perform ultrasound scans or enable drones/cars to detect and avoid pedestrians. Support for CUDA 6 technology is included in the module, which brings to the table such things as accelerated libraries for sparse matrix, FFTs, linear algebra, video processing, and so on.

So what is the Jetson TK1 exactly? A small “supercomputing module” featuring an NVIDIA Kepler 192-core GPU with a performance of 326 Gigaflops. That's three times the performance of any other embedded platform, and considering that the Jetson TK1 Developer Kit includes a full C/C++ toolkit based on NVIDIA CUDA, it should be straightforward enough to create software for it. As a parallel computing platform, it's more pervasive than, say, FPGA, custom ASIC and DSP processors. As for the hardware specs, here they are: the 192-core Kepler GPU is backed by 2 GB of memory. There's an I/O controller as well, which boasts connectors for Gigabit Ethernet, mini PCI Express, an S card slot, USB 3.0 and HDMI 1.4. OpenGL 4.4 is supported, as is the VisionWorks toolkit.

So, all in all, it might be a bit much to call this thing a supercomputer, but as a “mobile” product, it definitely has a high performance, and will let portable industrial systems and advanced robotic applications flourish further. The price of the NVIDIA Jetson TK1 Development Kit is of $192 / €192, but only pre-orders can be placed for now. You can do it straight from NVIDIA, or from Microcenter and Newegg, plus some of NVIDIA's confirmed partners like Avionic Design, SECO, Zotac (all three in Europe), or Ryoyo Electro Corporation (Japan). "Tegra K1 can change what's possible in the rugged and industrial embedded market. We expect to be able to offer solutions in the sub-10 watt space that previously consumed 100 watts or more," said Simon Collins, product manager at GE Intelligent Platforms.

Image credits to NVIDIA

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