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Nvidia's Jetson Xavier AI chip boasts $10,000-worth of power

But it's for robots, not your laptop.

The Jetson Xavier chip on show at Computex 2018.

Claire Reilly/CNET

Nvidia just announced a chip that crams $10,000 worth of power into a tiny box. 

But it's not for your laptop. The chip, Jetson Xavier, is for robots.

"This little computer is going to be the brain of future robots," company co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang announced at Nvidia's Monday press conference at Computex in Taiwan.

"Robots that drive, that fly, that swim, [a robot] that goes underground, that picks strawberries, picks lettuce, picks apples, helps you in the lab, like Jarvis handing you your screwdriver — this little computer is the brains of future intelligent machines," Huang said.

Jetson Xavier is packed with six processors which can run 30 trillion operations per second. It took five years to be created, Huang said: three years for the design and two years for the architecting. It took over 8,000 people to design and develop.

"This is the single longest processor project we have ever done in our company," he said. Xavier has roughly the same processing power as a $10,000 workstation equipped with graphics processing units, Huang added. Plus, it's easy on the power consumption.

"Essentially, a $10,000 workstation, 1,000 watts of performance, now fits in my hand for 30 watts." A development kit will start shipping in August from $1,299.

This isn't Nvidia's first foray into AI chips. The company's existing technology is already being used by companies for autonomous warehouse robots, fruit-picking robots and agriculture robots. Jetson Xavier, though, is 20 times more powerful than Nvidia's previous line of AI chips, according to Huang.

The six processors built into Xavier are a Volta Tensor Core GPU, an eight-core ARM64 CPU, dual NVDLA deep-learning accelerators, an image processor, a vision processor and a video processor.

Huang, who opened the conference by throwing sandwiches and cookies to the crowd of journalists, also showed off two other AI processors. The Drive Pegasus, which flaunts 280 teraflops of deep learning, is for completely autonomous taxis, while the Drive Xavier is for semi-autonomous cars.

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