At NVIDIA’s product launch press conference held on the evening of September 20, in addition to the much-anticipated RTX 4090/4080 graphics card, the firm also released a new generation of its DRIVE series chip named Thor. NVIDIA said that this chip will be officially launched in 2025, and that the first car company to adopt it will be Geely’s new energy vehicle marque Zeekr. In addition, XPeng Motors and QCraft will eventually use the chip.
Thor can be regarded as an upgraded version of Altan, an automated driving chip released by NVIDIA last year, which replaced Orin, and its performance was improved from Orin’s 275 TFLOPS to 1,000 TFLOPS. Altan was planned to be launched in 2024 – however, with last night’s launch of Thor, NVIDIA has cancelled plans for Altan and the chip will no longer be sold.
NVIDIA’s Thor supports the new FP8 data format, and its performance reaches 2,000 TFLOPS, which is twice that of Altan and eight times that of Orin, which is used by many car companies at present. Because of its ultra-high computing power, Thor will not only meet the needs of automated driving, but will also run operating systems such as Linux and Android, and automotive operating systems like QNX. It can thus become a real central domain controller.
With the continuous improvement of vehicle intelligence, more and more models are being equipped with various sensors such as high-beam lidars and high-pixel cameras, in order to bring a higher level of automated driving services. This also requires higher computing power of vehicles. In order to solve the problem of insufficient computing power, many car companies choose to carry multiple chips to improve the computing power of vehicles. However, the board-level interconnection capability of multiple chips across chips actually consumes a lot of computing power, so the effect is not as good as that of a single high computing power chip.
For Zeekr, the launch of NVIDIA’s flagship automated driving chip is good news. Previously, the Zeekr 001, the firm’s first model, made many car owners complain that its central control operation was not good because of a car chip problem. Zeekr then announced in July this year that it would replace the Snapdragon 8155 chip for vehicles free of charge, and the user experience has since greatly improved.