san francisco The carmaker BMW has virtually started its new plant in Debrecen, Hungary – two years before the construction work is completed. In a digital twin, BMW has the production run through in a partnership with the chip company Nvidia in order to optimize processes in advance. “We are witnessing a change in the way factories are planned and implemented,” Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said at a press conference in Santa Clara, California on Tuesday. BMW is a leader in the digitization of the automotive industry.
BMW has a “brilliant supply chain,” Huang enthused. “A luxury product is mass-produced. It’s a huge challenge,” he said. “BMW has one of the most complicated supply chains that exist anywhere in the world.” Digitizing these processes is now helping to save time and money. “Factories are huge and depend on many suppliers, it’s impossible to set this up perfectly from the start,” Huang said. That is why it is so important to have the factory go into virtual operation in advance in order to identify and eliminate all weak points.
Jensen Huang founded Nvidia in 1993 as a specialist supplier of graphics chips. Over the years he continued to develop the business. Today, Nvidia chips are considered leaders in the field of artificial intelligence. The automotive industry is set to become the next major growth area.
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Automated driving, infotainment and networking in vehicles require vast amounts of computing power and software. This makes chips one of the most important building blocks for cars of the future. Above all, Nvidia and its rivals Qualcomm and Intel are fighting for the market. According to the management consultancy McKinsey, sales in the automotive chip business should total around 160 billion dollars in 2030.
BMW joins long-term partnership with Nvidia rival Qualcomm
BMW is doubly important to Huang. The car manufacturer from Germany is a model customer of the Nvidia digital platform “Omniverse”. Huang hopes to be able to roll out the virtual worlds in many more industries in the future. The factory of BMW should act as a reference.
At the same time, Nvidia hopes to expand its partnership with BMW. The carmaker is currently planning the new production using Nvidia technology. In the much more important business with computer chips in vehicles, however, BMW has a long-standing partnership with Nvidia rival Qualcomm.
At BMW’s annual conference last week, CEO Oliver Zipse once again emphasized the deep partnership with Qualcomm. In Qualcomm, BMW has “a strong strategic partner for the next generation of driver assistance systems,” said Zipse. However, the BMW boss did not mention Nvidia in his speech.
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Mercedes already relies heavily on Nvidia chips in its vehicles. The chip company’s Orin system is intended to improve the computing power of all Mercedes series in the future and increase the maximum speed of highly automated driver assistance systems from 60 to up to 130 kilometers per hour. In return, Mercedes Nvidia participates directly in the sales proceeds.
BMW, on the other hand, agreed a long-term strategic cooperation with Qualcomm last year for the joint development of software solutions for automated driving. Nvidia is now trying to work on binding BMW more closely.
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