SAN FRANCISCO — The next-generation car — highly connected and possibly autonomous — has been called by many names. “Smartphone on wheels” was the popular moniker in earlier days. Then, Nvidia ratcheted up the analogy by saying: “Take a supercomputer. Give it wheels. Your next car will be your first personal supercomputer.
Right. Roll your eyes, please.
Then we heard a new one this week by Audi: “Data center on wheels” — or “mobile data center.”
Audi sees its own next-gen car this way, as a data center consisting of a number of server blades.
Berthold Hellenthal, responsible for Audi’s development of electronics, said, “Upgrading our cars via software isn’t enough. We need to be able to make hardware inside the car upgradable.”
The modular design of server blades inspires the metaphor. “We should be able to pull in and pull out blades in a car” as in a data center, he explained.
Hellenthal came to San Francisco this week to speak at a panel called “Design for Auto” at Semicon West. I happened to be the forum’s moderator.
On stage, he stuck to his data center analogy to describe challenges of the car of the future and Audi’s plan to combat them.
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