Nvidia Tegra drives Tesla Model S UI

Posted by Shane McGlaun

We've spent a lot of time here on TG Daily discussing various aspects of Tesla's Model S electric vehicle, including electric powertrain, driving distance and availability.

However, we haven't spilled nearly as much ink analyzing the Model S interior, which is one of the highest tech vehicle cockpits you'll find anywhere. Rather than simply making do with analog gauges and buttons, Tesla deploys futuristic LCDs for drivers to monitor and control the electric vehicle.

Nvidia Tegra drives Tesla Model S UI

Indeed, the instrument cluster is all-digital, showing a plethora of gauges along with other relevant data. The primary centerpiece of the vehicle interior? A large 17-inch touchscreen entertainment and navigation system in the middle of the dash. That massive 17-inch touchscreen is the largest ever used in a passenger car - and Tesla is the first vehicle manufacturer to ship the Tegra VCM system.

According to Nvidia, the platform enables intuitive, interactive, and high-resolution visuals. Essentially, this means maps are now more readable (no more squinting and swerving), while beautifully rendered instrument clusters can be personalized from the multifunction steering wheel.

Every time I see an image of the inside of the Model S; I can't help but think the woes Ford ran into with its MyFord Touch system that was cumbersome and difficult to use. Virtual buttons are far from ideal in many situations and in a car, tactile feedback is very important when trying to change settings without taking your eyes off the road. Hopefully, Tesla has found a way to make the system very user-friendly.

"To capture the interest of today’s consumer, automakers must innovate well beyond the traditional transportation benefits of a car," explained Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski. "Automakers have to impress drivers with superior in-vehicle connectivity and interface experiences that leverage the best technology innovations available.”

Nvidia says the Tegra VCM features the world's first mobile super chip integrating a multicore ARM CPU along with an ultra-low-power Nvidia GeForce GPU that features dedicated audio, video, and image processing units.

As noted above, the primary touchscreen in the Model S will provide a customizable user interface for music, phone, navigation, climate control and connected services. The instrument cluster gets a second Tegra module and measures 12.3-inches.

Nvidia is talking up its participation with Tesla i just as the manufacturer is set to deliver the first 10 Model S electric vehicles this week. Tesla has already taken 10,000 deposits on the Model S at $5000 each. However, one big question remains: where will Tesla find its next 10,000 customers?