In the future, cars will be powerful enough to run Half-Life 2. We know this because Nvidia has persuaded car manufacturers to adopt its Tegra system-on-ship (SoC) -- a hardware package originally designed to bring 3D graphics to next-generation smartphones.
It means cars of the relatively near future will have dynamic displays capable of showing 3D graphics. Instrument panels could be user-configurable, or be clever enough to change display modes depending on driving conditions. Sporty driving, for instance, could yield a larger, more accurate rev counter, which would make way for larger audio or eco driving-related readouts during more sedate motoring.
The system could do wonders for sat-nav displays. Imagine photo-realistic 3D representations of real buildings and roads that you navigate in a simulation before setting off on your real journey. It could send Tom Toms the way of the dodo and make your passengers bow down in awe of your supreme taste in vehicles.
The system is based on Nvidia's 6 series graphics processing units, which were pretty impressive circa 2004. Back then, they were capable of running titles like Halo: Combat Evolved or Doom 3, at a push, so we're pretty excited about their prospects in Tegra form. According to Nvidia, final Tegra hardware is capable of handling 1080p HD video, and graphically-intensive Web content using Microsoft Windows Mobile, Windows CE, or Android operating systems.
So far, it looks as if the system will be available in a variety of future Audis, but sources tell us it'll also crop up in vehicles from Mercedes Benz, Fiats, Alfa-Romeos, Ferraris, Lancias, Bentleys, Bugattis, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Seats, Skodas and Volkswagens.
Keep your eyes on Car Tech for more info as we get it.