Nvidia touts its place in the Tesla Model S

Tesla chose Nvidia's Tegra processor to power the Model S' dashboard electronics, the first models of which will be delivered on Friday.

Tesla Model S
The Model S dashboard uses an LCD instrument cluster and a 17-inch main touch screen. Nvidia

Ahead of the first customer deliveries of the Tesla Model S electric car on Friday, Nvidia issued a press release detailing the use of its Tegra Visual Computing Module (VCM) in the car's dashboard. The use of the Tegra processor to not only run the graphics on the car's 17-inch LCD, but also power the 3D digital instrument cluster accentuates the cutting-edge technology embodied in the Model S.

The Model S will use two of the Nvidia VCMs, one for the infotainment system and one for the instrument cluster. The former includes all the processing needed to generate the graphics on the touch screen, run navigation algorithms, integrate digital music sources with the stereo, and handle Bluetooth paired phones.

The processor for the instrument cluster, shown on a 12.3-inch LCD, will need to generate 3D graphics that drivers can customize for their preferred information displays. This VCM will need to interact with the car's CAN Bus, interpreting data such as speed and temperature for the instrument display, and also show some infotainment-related screens.

The dashboard photo shows the center touch-screen layout with a menu bar across the top and a navigation screen using satellite imagery on the upper half of the display. The lower half shows stereo controls, with a bar for climate control at the bottom.

The instrument cluster display shows a relatively simple format, with a virtual speedometer gauge in the middle, audio information on the left, and electric power-train performance on the right. The speedometer includes a range bar in the middle, and colored segments that would seem to indicate brake regeneration and battery depletion.

Both of these displays are likely to be very customizable by the driver, so what is shown in this photo would be just one possibility.

One holdover from cars CNET previously saw in beta is the drive selector stalk on the steering wheel, which Tesla uses in lieu of a console shifter. This drive selector comes from the same parts bin that Mercedes-Benz has been pulling its drive selectors from.

CNET will be at the Tesla Fremont facility on Friday for the customer delivery event, and will see how well Nvidia's photo comports with the production vehicle.

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About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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