CUDA + Tegra

A friend of mine is building a small autonomous robot that relies on vision algorithms to know where to go and what to do. Unfortunately, this requires a lot of processing power to do and the only way that he found to be able to do it, is to capture the video, send it to a ground station, process it and send the instructions back. He wants to remove the ground station, but to do that, the robot will have to be big enough to house a small computer. Instead, he was looking into using CUDA, but the equipment is too big. Would it be possible to put a Tegra chip on the robot to do all the video capturing and processing? Does Tegra support CUDA and what programming language does it use?

No, Tegra does not support CUDA but you could probably still do some GPGPU with it.

The smallest thing with CUDA would probably be the 9400M chipset. Eg you could tape a Macbook to your robot, lol. There will probably soon be some industrial Single-Board-Computers with this chipset. These things are 5.75"x8". Or you could find an SBC with a PCIe slot, and put a desktop card in. It will all still be very small.

what about the ion?

As far as I have seen there are some manufacturers that make PCI-104 boards with a GT240 kind of GPU on it and modules with just a GPU, I forgot the manufacturer…

Zotac is the best source for these mini-motherboards with built in GPU.

A nice ready-to-go micro-system is the Acer Revo.

Tegra is cool (and powerful for the size!) but it’s not CUDA… different architecture and much lower size and wattage… and obviously compute power.

It’s worth noting that Tegra 2 does support programmable shaders (OpenGL ES 2.0), so even though it doesn’t support CUDA you can do some old-school GPGPU on it!

Incidentally, does anyone actually sell boards like the original NVIDIA Ion reference system (looked to be 3" by 5" with minimal ports)? I have a particular application where I think the pairing of Atom with the 9400M might actually give me the highest work units/sec per watt (and decent work units/sec per dollar). If it panned out, I would need hundreds of these boards, so it has to be commercially available.

At GTC 09, there was an exhibitor showing really amazing printed holograms (I forget the company name, but they were unique.) We got into a discussion about that very Ion reference board… they were eager for a commercial source as well and were unsuccessful. That was 6 months ago.

You can see a pic here. I remember how remarkable they were in person when I saw them at SIGGRAPH 09.

Yeah, NVIDIA still has the “life-size” PDF on their Ion site that you can print out to make your own paper Ion reference board. :)

I looked at the Mini-ITX Zotac boards, but there really is too much extra stuff on those motherboards, adding to power consumption and price. (Understandably, since they are aimed at the HTPC and cheap workstation market.)