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Nvidia wins $20 Million DARPA contract

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Nvidia has been awarded a contract worth up to $20 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to research embedded processor technologies that could lead to dramatic improvements in the ability of autonomous vehicles to collect and process data from onboard sensors.

DARPA is the US Defense Department’s research and development arm. The five-year contract, awarded under DARPA's Power Efficiency Revolution For Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT) programme, will fund research for processors that are 75 times more energy-efficient than current embedded solutions.

The goal is to enable surveillance and computer vision systems in ground and airborne vehicles to collect and analyse much more data than can be processed today in real time.

Existing embedded processors deliver about one gigaflop of performance (one billion floating point operations each second) per watt. The Nvidia programme, known as Project Osprey, will research low-power circuits and extremely efficient architectures and programming systems that enable 75 gigaflops per watt.

'The technologies developed with this program can transform the capabilities of embedded systems, making autonomous vehicles more practical and intelligent,' said Steve Keckler, senior director of architecture research at Nvidia. 'This research will help Nvidia continue to advance mobile computing for both government and consumer applications.'