The Data Center Holds the Keys to Autonomous Vehicles

For me, learning to drive as a kid from New Jersey was a rite of passage. I often ask people whether they want cars that drive themselves. The notion of not dealing with the traffic does sound appealing, but regardless of whether we like it or not, autonomous driving vehicles are coming.

Guided by artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles have the potential to make our roads safer, improve fuel economies, and give us the luxury of a more relaxing driving experience. That’s the view from the driver’s seat. The view from the data center is quite different. For data center operators, the widespread use of autonomous vehicles will create unprecedented challenges.

Just starting with the R&D phase to enable autonomous vehicles, the amount of data coming off self-driving vehicles is huge. The typical autonomous vehicle, driven about 90 minutes a day, will generate about 4 terabytes of data per day.  Some car manufacturers are generating over a petabyte a month of data. Data centers are essential to aggregating, managing and analyzing that data for autonomous vehicle development. To deliver car data to the data center is a challenge in and of itself.  Today, about $1 million is spent on data center infrastructure for each autonomous car that is in development, so obviously current practices aren’t sustainable. To scale out support for estimated 10 million cars by 2020, data centers are going to require immense investment in compute, networking, storage and other infrastructure.

DNA of data. Driving the digital transformation board
The DNA of Data: Driving the Digital Transformation

We are at an inflection point. The data center for autonomous driving will be “rack scale” – no longer architected at the server level but at the data center rack (integration of around 40 or more servers).  We now need new approaches to the data center to meet the demands of the new transportation value chain, from data ingest and analysis to artificial intelligence, applications, and simulation capabilities. As for the AI component, we are going to need data center technologies that can scale to meet the demands of training deep learning models that will drive the autonomous vehicle. In this new role, data centers will become teachers for fleets of autonomous vehicles.

I was excited to see the role of the data center in the rise of cloud computing and now it will be key to the transformation to a new era of transportation.  We are designing new technologies and rack-level designs to deliver the scale and economics to enable autonomous driving. These technologies drive optimization across the different phases of the autonomous driving platform. For example, Intel® Optane™ SSDs will deliver capacity for the data ingest and data management layers. Intel’s processors for AI including Intel® Xeon Phi™ and future ASICs such as Lake Crest that deliver performance for training autonomous driving in-car policy. Intel’s optimization of networking workloads is going to be key to enable the communications scale for connecting millions of cars in a mission critical manner for 5G.

Intel self-driving autonomous vehicles
Intel autonomous vehicles

Ultimately, in the quest to pave the way to the widespread use of autonomous vehicles, Intel is uniquely positioned. Our system-wide portfolio of complementary technologies, which spans from car to cloud, will allow many disparate systems and capabilities to work together seamlessly to deliver tomorrow’s self-driving vehicles.

To learn more about Intel’s role in autonomous driving check out Doug Davis’ blog.

Published on Categories Data CenterTags , , , , ,
Jason Waxman

About Jason Waxman

Jason P. Waxman, Corporate Vice President, Data Center Group and Data Centric Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). As CSO, Jason will be focused on driving consistent, strategic long-term business planning, accelerating new business models, and identifying inorganic growth opportunities in close collaboration with Intel Capital. Waxman joined Intel in 1997 and has held several roles in cloud, enterprise and data center computing. Before being CSO, Waxman started the Datacenter Solutions Group leading the systems and rack scale design businesses. He was also the general manager of the Cloud Platforms Group, where he managed Intel’s business, products and technologies for cloud service providers. Prior to that, Waxman was general manager of high-density computing and led the definition and introduction in enterprise of Intel Xeon platforms. Before coming to Intel, Waxman worked in strategic planning and manufacturing for Emerson Electric. Waxman is an industry advocate for standards in data center computing, including board roles in the Open Compute Foundation and the Server System Infrastructure Forum. He initiated Intel's role as technical advisor to the Open Data Center Alliance. He is involved in non-profit charities and acts as a trustee to the Oregon Health and Sciences University and a board member for the Boys and Girls Aid. Waxman holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, a master's degree in operations research, and an MBA degree, all from Cornell University.