“You need to interpret all the visual data coming from these cameras -- a standard CPU can’t handle it,” he said. “These new VPUs are designed for this large amount of pixel data, resolving it into objects and mapping everything out,” he said.
The expected $10,000 premium for self-driving cars “pays for lots of cameras and processing horsepower,” he added.
Asked about the next steps in the current consolidation of the semiconductors industry, Gwennap predicted shifts among vendors of networking chips. Applied Micro could be ripe for an acquisition and companies including Broadcom, Freescale and Marvell might spin out their network-chip divisions, he said.“Given the way Avago chopped up past companies it acquired, it could spin out groups such as Broadcom’s NetLogic network processor business -- the $100 processors and Broadcom’s high-end Ethernet switches require big engineering commitments that don’t fit the Avago model,” Gwennap said.
“Qualcomm is a potential buyer because it has been somewhat acquisitive lately and is looking for new markets, so a big embedded networking business” could help it diversify beyond its base in mobile systems, he added.
— Rick Merritt is Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times