NVIDIA Enables Device-Level Supercomputing

By Tiffany Trader

May 1, 2014

The Jetson TK1 development kit is now shipping. Order what GPU maker NVIDIA calls the “first mobile embedded supercomputer” and you’ll get a board with the same core technology that’s in use by many of the world’s fastest supercomputers, including the top US system, Titan. You’ll also receive an AC adapter with power cord, a USB cable for flashing, and NVIDIA’s quick start guide.

NVIDIA sums up the Jetson TK1 as “a tiny but full-featured computer designed for the development of embedded and mobile applications.” The $192 kit offers 192 programmable Tegra K1 cores, perfect for tasks like feature-detection and tracking, object recognition, and 3D scene analysis.

Notably, the project is the first to meld CUDA with mobile GPUs. The TK1 – which combines a Kepler GPU with a NVIDIA 4-plus-1 quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU – is “the only mobile processor today that supports CUDA 6 for computing and full desktop OpenGL 4.4 and DirectX 11 for graphics,” according to NVIDIA.

The board employs the same Kepler architecture and CUDA core technology as NVIDIA supplies to leading labs and universities to accelerate computational workloads.

What this means, according to NVIDIA blogger Will Park, is that “the applications for Tegra K1 are already here.”

“The result: Jetson TK1 is a great development platform for computer vision and CUDA applications for robotics, medicine, security, automotive, and defense applications, among others,” continues Park.

Each 5″ wide by 5″ long board comes with the Tegra K1 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB 4.51 eMMC memory, and a long list of peripherals and ports. CUDA-support in a compact, low-power platform “makes development as simple as developing on a PC,” says the GPU maker.

The kit offers an opportunity for developers, professional, student or hobbyist, to unleash their inner Edison. With so many possible applications, and a potential 300 Gigaflops of computing power per board, the really cool part will be seeing what kind of creative visions will be enabled.

NVIDIA is also targeting the Jetson TK1 at OEMs – robotics, avionics, and medical device companies – who can use Tegra K1 SoCs to develop new products, and can employ Jetson to make the process easier. When they’re ready to enter production, they can customize the compute elements by working with one of NVIDIA’s board partners.

The technology is available now for $1 per core, sold in increments of 192.

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