Mercedes HMI makes massive use of Nvidia architecture

Mercedes HMI makes massive use of Nvidia architecture

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

With the new MBUX system (MBUX standing for Mercedes-Benz User Experience), Daimler follows to some extend competitor Audi who first brought configurable high-resolution graphic displays to the center console and the main instrument. MBUX however exceeds Audi’s possibilities by far. One thing both carmakers have in common is the extensive use of graphic chips from Nvidia.

MBUX follows an innovative approach in that the system has the ability to learn and adopt to its user’s habits. This capability is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques – to our knowledge a world’s first in this domain.

The large and widely configurable graphic displays with all the functions of a virtual cockpit are eye-catching. Car buyers have a choice of three different screen configurations – two 7-inch displays, one 7-inch and one 10.25-inch displays or two 10.25-inch screens with resolutions of up to 1920 x 720 pixels at 200 dpi. These screens are complemented by a high-brightness (12,000 cd/m2) head-up display.

Users can enter their commands to the car either through capacitive touchscreens or voice control, powered by algorithms from the market-leading voice recognition software vendor Nuance.

The navigation system included in the MBUX functionality gets its data from HERE, the digital map provider that Daimler (with Audi and BMW) bought from Nokia to establish an open navigation data platform. The POI (Point of Interest) are obtained from the same source.

The entire software runs on a rather powerful computing platform that is crammed with Nvidia processors: The basic graphics chip, used in the entry- and mid-level version is a Reilly PX whereas the high-end version of MBUX got a Parker SoC. The six-core CPU includes 2 Denver and four ARM A57 processors; the graphics section includes a GPU with 128 or 256 CUDA cores. With this massive semiconductor effort, the system achieves a performance of 59,300 DMIPS and 500 GigaFlops – not bad, if one remembers that two decades ago such a specification would hint to a supcercomputer the size of a gym. The whole system runs under Linux – another hint that the world of automotive electronics is leaving its embedded niche and is merging with the wide, open IT world. 

The system communicates with the outside world with its own LTE communications module. For in-car data communication, it has CAN/CAN FD interfaces – plus the good old MOST interface which apparently is not yet dead – contrary to the predictions of most infotainment market insiders.

Further interfaces include USB (v1.1, 2.0 and Type C for faster charging), Bluetooth and NFC. In addition, the system has a direct connection to the front camera – for another unique feature: the augmented map representation added by Augmented Reality. A video image of the surroundings taken with the help of the front camera is enriched with helpful navigation information, for example, pointers or house numbers are automatically inserted directly into the image on the touch screen. This makes it easier for the driver, for example, to find a certain house number or the right side street to turn off. To keep all this stuff up to date at all times, the software can be updated over the air interface.

Related articles:

A look under the hood of Nvidia’s Parker SoC

Nvidia introduces compact single-chip AI platform

Bosch and Continental buy into virtual map company HERE

Volkswagen and Nvidia plan to make cars smarter


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