Fast enough for gaming, fast enough for driving
While you look at this 2016 Audi TT, the driver is looking at the 'virtual cockpit, an all-digital instrument cluster powered by an embedded Visual Computing Module (VCM). Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor brings fast, 60fps response time to the 12.3-inch, 1,440x540-pixel display. That's fast enough to play PC games—but here, that power helps the digital readouts react in real time to how the car is driving.
It may sound gimmicky to some driving purists, but check out the views on the slides to follow. Everything from the classic tachometer and speedometer to Google Earth 3D maps looks pretty sweet on this display.
The look is classic, but the display is digital
Here's the "classic" view of the virtual cockpit, with the tachometer and speedometer in the forefront. In between, you can see a handy map of your current surroundings, enhanced by Google Earth 3D images. Smaller images for fuel, engine temperature, and other basic information run along the top and bottom.
Audi's MMI infotainment hits the virtual cockpit
The classic view of the virtual cockpit here shows the MMI infotainment interface between the larger tachometer and speedometer. You can control the MMI system using...
Virtual cockpit controls on the steering wheel
...the steering-wheel controls on the lefthand side. So you don't even have to glance down to the standard MMI rotary and touchpad controls on the center console, but they're there if you (or your passenger) need them.
Infotainment mode deemphasizes driving just a bit
Here's the infotainment view in the 2016 Audi TT's 'virtual cockpit.' The tachometer and speedometer don't go away, but they shrink to cede more space to infotainment. Here you see the MMI interface.
Watch the weather fill this virtual cockpit's view
This infotainment view shows how weather and other important data can come forward when you want it. Remember, this is a digital display, so you can change the view whenever you wish.
Maps look more vivid, thanks to Google Earth
But what most drivers want in front of them is a map, and this is what it looks like on the 'virtual cockpit' display. The data is from the digital mapping service Here (which was recently purchased by a consortium of automakers, including Audi), but there's a Google Earth visual overlay to make the map more visually accurate and lifelike.
Google Earth can see the road ahead
Here's the most surprising Google Earth view: The open road in front of you, almost like you're looking out the windshield twice. Okay, maybe you don't really need to see what's immediately ahead, but it shows off the quality of the image data available.
The guts of the virtual cockpit, front view
This cross-cut of the 2016 Audi TT's virtual cockpit module (front view) provides a peek at the computer behind the module, plus the special glare-reducing, 12.3-inch TFT display. Nvidia's Visual Computing Module is shown below.
The guts of the virtual cockpit, rear view
This rear view of the 2016 Audi TT's virtual cockpit module shows where the Visual Computing Module fits, on the far right side. Somewhere in there is a second VCM to power just the navigation view.
Do you love the digital choices, or do you miss the real, mechanical dials? Let us know in the Comments.
Today's Best Tech Deals
Picked by PCWorld's Editors
$10 eBay coupon for invited users
Save $50 on your order of $600 with Overstock promo code
60% off gold and silver jewelry with JCPenney promo code
Get free shipping on all orders at iRobot
Dyson promo code
Dyson Owner Rewards - 20% off your purchase
Advance Auto Parts Coupon
Advance Auto Parts coupon 20% off select products