Somewhere lurking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, away from the yard margaritas and casino "War" tables, Audi quietly boosted the processor performance of its infotainment system thanks to hardware upgrades in its cars.
The newest iteration of Audi's modular infotainment system, called "MIB," made its official debut this week in Las Vegas. Called MIB 3, the system uses processors that are 10 times more powerful than current-generation systems found in Audi vehicles. Forward-facing improvements include quicker loading maps, better voice recognition, and sharper displays.
What's going on under our fingertips may prove to be more exciting. Audi's latest infotainment system uses dual touchscreens with haptic feedback that control nearly every function of the car. More horsepower from processors (pun intended) could allow natural voice-commands, augmented reality displays, and smarter feedback from cloud-based services and in-car computers.
2019 Audi A8 L
Processor speeds are partly capped due to the large power demands that computers place on vehicle architectures. Other than the engine, wiring is the second-heaviest component on any car due to legacy hardware that controls everything from ignition to engine control processors to sensor arrays. Drawing power from an alternator-battery combo has its limits.
Audi's coming mild-hybrid and electric cars will have the architecture to support MIB 3. An Audi spokeswoman said that the hardware would eventually spread throughout the lineup, but she didn't say specifically when it would arrive and what it may offer.
Last year, Audi's chief designer Mark Lichte told us that the evolution for Audi's infotainment system would include augmented reality apps. The upgraded MIB 3 system may supply enough processing power to make those a reality.