CES 2011: NVIDIA Tesla Graphics Console

It was a year ago this month, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, that Tesla unveiled a working prototype of its Model S electric seven-passenger sedan. Now NVIDIA is at the Consumer Electronics Show to give folks a gander at what’s inside the Tesla – specifically, infotainment, navigation and instrument-cluster systems powered by NVIDIA Tegra processors.

In announcing its integration into the next-generation Tesla – due out in 2012 – NVIDIA described a stunning dash featuring 3D graphics on a 17-inch touch-screen center console – “the largest display ever in a car,” NVIDIA said.

Tesla Model S console, NVIDIA

image via NVIDIA

Of course, Tesla isn’t just about design and performance that knocks your socks off; it’s about combining those attributes with environmental awareness. It is, after all, an electric vehicle. With that in mind, NVIDIA said its Tegra processor “provides exceptional energy efficiency, a critically important feature for electric cars.” One processor, the company said, will be used to power the infotainment and navigation systems, and another for the instrument cluster.

NVIDIA calls Tegra the world’s first mobile superchip, with eight dedicated computing cores. “These include the ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, the world’s only ultra-low power NVIDIA GeForce GPU and the world’s first mobile 1080p HD video processor,” according to the company.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.