Nvidia’s new Jetson TX2 is the credit card-sized AI brain of the future

Fueling smart machines in a small package

Components manufactures are always looking to push the boundaries of what silicon can do, and to that end Nvidia is back with a pocket-sized super computer of sorts in the Jetson TX2.

Squeezed into the size of a credit card, the Jetson TX2 platform will support artificial intelligence (AI) computing in everything from factory robots to commercial drones to smart video cameras scattered around cities. TX2 takes AI computing up a notch by powering smarter machines in a smaller package, one that measures only 50mm x 87mm (2in x 3.4in). 

Jetson TX2 is proceeded by the Jetson TX1 and TK1, and Nvidia claims it offers twice as much performance and efficiency over the TX1. In that state, the Jetson TX2 draws less than 7.5 watts of power. 

The system is sort-of like an Arduino on steroids, with functions that include voice and facial recognition, navigation and object detection. Partners for Nvidia's new Jetson include Cisco, Live Planet, MIT, Toyota and Toshiba.

At a launch event in San Fransisco, Nvdia demonstrated how Jetson TX2 recognizes other cars in the road, including in rainy conditions. 

Nvidia has been a long-time proponent of self-driving cars and other AI systems, and Jetson TX2 seems to be another step in its mission to support hyper-intelligent machines that perform critical functions, now and into the not-so-distant future. 

Nvidia Jetson TX2 specs

Among the Jetson TX2's specs are a 256-core Nvidia Pascal-based GPU, upgraded from Maxwell on the Jetson TX1. Dual 64-bit Nvidia Denver 2 chips and a Quad ARM A57 comprise the CPU, and the memory has been pumped up from 4GB LPDDR4 to 8GB LPDDR4. 

Jetson TX2 features 32GB eMMC of on-board storage, Bluetooth connectivity, and it supports 4K video two times over at 60 frames-per-second encode and decode. Finally while Jetson TX1 was powered by the Tegra X1 SoC, Jetson TX2 is backed by Nvidia's newer Parker system-on-a-chip, which also powers the company's autonomous driving systems.

Nvidia's Jetson is an open platform, meaning anyone – from students to makers to major corporations – can use its SDK to create AI systems. 

You can pre-order the Jetson TX2 Developer Kit (includes carrier board and Jetson TX2 module) right now in the US and Europe for $599 (about £490, AU$790). Shipments will start heading out on March 14, and availability will open up in other regions "in the coming weeks."

Nvidia and its global distributors will make the Jetson TX2 module available in Q2 for $399 (£330, AU$525) when you order quantities of 1,000 or more. Last but not least, the Jetson TX1 Developer Kit price is now just $499 (about £410, AU$660).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle is TechRadar's Senior News Editor, based in the Bay Area. Covering every corner of the industry, Michelle aims to bring you the most useful and entertaining bits about the gadgets you love. Her most exhilarating moment as a tech journalist so far is riding in a self-driving car. Got a tip? Drop her a line!