Graphics, Hardware, Software Programs

Futuremark, nVidia get inside Audi 2010 cars

Back on inaugural [and so far, only] NVISION 08, nVidia was showing a prototype 3D interface from Audi, to be implemented in future Audi, Lamborghini and Bugatti cars. This futuristic interface was nothing short of breathtaking and we were quite surprised when we learned that it was developed by Futuremark Corporation. We expected the system to launch for 2009 generation but nVidia wasn’t ready with the Tegra chips in volume [as we all know, Tegra only showed up in serious volume in 2009].

Futuremark's MMI 3G Interface in Audi Q7
Futuremark’s MMI 3G Interface in Audi Q7

Under a name MMI 3G [3rd Generation Man-Machine Interface], buyers of Audi cars can now experience a system that I would seriously consider to be true next-gen. Personally, I have found that systems from BMW and Mercedes systems are really complicated to navigate, especially while driving. I had very limited experience with Audi [less than 200km/120 miles], but their system looked like it needs a touch of intuitiveness as well.

Luckily, Futuremark is undergoing a transformation from benchmark-only company to a company that produces consumer-friendly products as well. First, the company released affordable-yet-addictive PC shooter Shattered Horizon and now Audi started shipping MMI 3G [yes, last year Audi and Futuremark were demonstrating MMI3D].

The interface brings climate control, radio, multimedia player, games, advanced 3D GPS navigation, telemetry data, speed and other measurements all "under one roof." The system was in the works for over three years but now the time has finally come to see it in production.

Futuremark's MMI 3G Interface in 2010 Audi A6
Futuremark’s MMI 3G Interface in 2010 Audi A6

With the new system available of majority of 2010 models, Audi is using a combination between Tegra SoC and "rugged automotive-grade GeForce" processor. Back at NVISION, we were explained that "rugged automotive-grade" processor is actually a special version GeForce 9600 capable of withstanding a lot of shocks – the chip is integrated onto the motherboard and capable of surviving all the stress and shock tests made by automotive manufacturers. For Tegra, it’s a given that it will pass due to packaging, but we had some doubts about survivability of FC-BGA [Flip-Chip Ball Grid Array] packaged chips given the comments by our sources at Mercedes Benz.