Nvidia, the biggest maker of graphics chips, has announced a new version of its Shield set-top box and the debut of an online service designed to bring millions of new consumers to high-end computer games.
The new Shield will display high-resolution video and feature Google Assistant technology capable of recognising natural-language commands and controlling other devices. The chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang made the announcement in Las Vegas.
Nvidia was the best performer on the Nasdaq 100 last year, riding investor optimism that the company is making progress in its push to find new markets for graphics chips, such as in data centres, consumer electronics and self-driving cars. Mr Huang said the continuing expansion of gaming gives his company the ability to spend on adapting the graphics technology to fresh uses.
The new GeForce Now service will allow the 1 billion PC owners whose machines cannot play high-end computer games to access that capability over the internet, he said. The service will charge US$25 for 20 hours of gaming. It will work on PCs and Apple computers.
The new $199 Shield will get an accessory, called Nvidia Spot, which will bring sensitive microphones to each room of a house and allow users to speak naturally to the device wherever they are. Mr Huang said the aim is to bring Amazon’s Echo-like capabilities to a media and gaming hub, eliminating the need for multiple devices.
Trying to further the company’s car ambitions, Nvidia is testing its new Xavier high-end computing module – which features the equivalent of eight high-end graphics processors – in a package that draws 30 watts of power. The device is capable of driving cars Nvidia is testing on the roads today without human input, Mr Huang showed in a video.
He also announced a new artificial intelligence program for cars that will act as an advanced assistant to drivers. The co-pilot system will keep an eye on the road and also on the driver, checking things such as whether the human behind the wheel is paying attention, is upset and has noticed potential hazards in the path of the car.
Extending its partnership with Volkswagen’s premium brand Audi, Nvidia will supply the computer brains to vehicles, which Huang called AI cars. The vehicles could be on the road by 2020 and be capable of fully autonomous driving.
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