Nvidia’s Audi win goes to TI’s Jacinto 5 SoC

All means less than you expect in Santa Clara

Nvidia logoRemember that triumphant deal between Nvidia and Audi to use Tegras in all 2012 Audi products? I guess “all” means something different to Nvidia than you or I, one of Audi’s largest sellers uses a TI SoC.

Rather than putting words in their mouth, or paraphrasing press releases, lets see what Nvidia said. “NVIDIA and Audi announced today that NVIDIA® GPUs power the navigation and entertainment systems in all 2010 Audi vehicles worldwide.” – Nvidia press release from CES 2010.

In addition, the next generation NVIDIA® Tegra™ ultra low-power HD mobile processors will drive the advanced entertainment and navigation systems in all 2012 Audi vehicles, as well as other Volkswagen AG brands, including Volkswagen, Bentley, Lamborghini, SEAT and SKODA, in varying levels of functionality.” – from the same release as above. [Bold is ours. -Ed.]

When I read that Jen-Hsun Huang said, “Audi is the first car company in the world to keep up with consumer electronics at CES earlier this year, I got one of those feeling like I got from watching one of the new Star Wars movies. You know, that point where the whole balance in the force was brought up just before the ‘last’ Sith was killed. Why? Notice how none of the high end/premium/desirable phone models use Tegra 3 any more? What would that imply if Audi was keeping up with consumer electronics?

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NASDAQ: TXN) today confirmed that Audi’s MIB High system, the next-generation infotainment platform for Audi vehicles, is the first automotive system to incorporate TI’s “Jacinto 5” automotive infotainment processor.” – from a TI press release yesterday.

Among other features, the processor enables feature-rich vehicle interfaces, and vivid digital radio and audio within the RCC unit in Audi’s MIB High system, which debuted in the 2012 Audi A3.” – from the same TI release as above.

I guess “all” means all but the A3, and that would mean all is not quite what it seems to be. If the TI press release is to be believed, well, Nvidia doesn’t appear to be long for the world as an Audi vendor. This backs up some data given to us by reverse engineers earlier in the year, they tried to find Nvidia CPUs in Audi infotainment systems they bought, but couldn’t. Trust me, they bought a lot of them, and found lots of SoCs from different vendors, none of which were Nvidia. While this is not a conclusive survey, it does go a long way to explaining how “all” is defined at Nvidia, and what the press will repeat without a shred of evidence.

In the end, it looks like another triumphant Nvidia design win has disappeared from real world sales. Given the tens of Tegra 2 phone wins that disappeared without a trace, and the number of Tegra 3 phones on the market, this isn’t a surprise. Does this spell the end of Nvidia’s driving ambitions?S|A

Updated: December 12, 2012  12:50pm

David Niemiec with Airfoil group reached out to us with the statement that Airfoil is a partner with Nvidia and the following is Nvidia’s official statement regarding Tegra in Audi cars:

NVIDIA is and will continue to be the heart and soul of the award winning infotainment system found in the newest Audis and VWs, and soon other brands in the VW Group. For the MIB infotainment system, Audi uses a variety of technologies, the key one being the Multimedia Applications Unit (MMX), which is designed and produced by NVIDIA. The modular design enables Audi to easily migrate from Tegra 2, to Tegra 3 and beyond, bridging the gap that traditionally existed between consumer electronics and automotive systems. Another element of the Audi system is the Radio and Car Control Unit (RCC). NVIDIA’s Tegra processor powers the MMX, while Texas Instrument’s processors are used in the RCC.

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate