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Industrial manufacturing giant Siemens has entered into a partnership with AI hardware and software vendor Nvidia for applying digital twin technology in industrial settings.
The partnership joins Siemens' expertise in digital twins -- accurate digital representations of real-life objects and processes for advanced simulation -- in building and manufacturing with the power and visual sophistication of Nvidia's AI GPU chips and Omniverse metaverse platform.
Made public Wednesday, the deal is part of a package of product introductions. The new offerings include Siemens Xcelerator, a hardware-software-services business platform for industrial, building and transportation IoT applications; the Building X smart building SaaS suite; and Siemens' acquisition of smart building software vendor Brightly.
A partner ecosystem is at the core of Xcelerator, and Siemens said its agreement with Nvidia is the first major partnership in the Xcelerator portfolio.
Siemens is experienced in building digital twins with physical accuracy that behave like real objects. Nvidia -- with its heritage in gaming, rendering and AI -- is strong in creating digital twins with visual fidelity, noted Paul Miller, a Forrester Research analyst.
"Both have been expanding their capabilities for several years, moving towards twins that combine physical and visual fidelity, but by working together they take a sensible shortcut for themselves and their customers," Miller said.
Nvidia has been providing digital twin systems to customers such as Amazon, which uses the technology to test complex robotic warehouse systems. BMW, another customer, uses the tech for testing autonomous vehicles in simulated environments.
"Combining those capabilities with the Siemens software and solutions that design and operate a lot of those facilities creates opportunities for customers to achieve their objectives faster or more easily than before," Miller said.
The series of software-oriented moves by Siemens, including the digital twin initiative with Nvidia, is a sign that the Munich-based conglomerate has moved decisively into the digital world after some earlier stumbles, said Johna Till Johnson, CEO and analyst at Nemertes.
Johna Till JohnsonCEO and analyst, Nemertes Research
Those missteps included a foray in the late 1980s and 1990s into making integrated services digital network communications chips, which were soon supplanted by DSL and cable.
"Siemens does have a track record of thinking strategically and executing well, so that makes this interesting … it's a bellwether announcement," Johnson said of the deal with Nvidia. "This vision of the industrial metaverse is actually the money shot for the metaverse.
"This makes a whole lot of sense if you think about the fact that Siemens is historically where intelligence meets the real world," she added.
While metaverse applications for industry, manufacturing and transportation are multiplying rapidly, Johnson cautioned that standards are needed for metaverse and digital twins technology to stabilize and continue advancing.
For Nvidia, the universal scene description (USD) open source standard for 3D digital design and asset sharing developed by Pixar Animation Studios is the foundation for Nvidia Omniverse. Originally developed by Apple, USD is gaining momentum as a widely accepted metaverse standard.
Siemens and Nvidia did not reveal any customers for their joint digital twin venture.
"It's early days for the Nvidia-Siemens partnership, so I think we probably need to wait to see the first key applications, but the direction of travel is intriguing," Miller said. "Siemens is making a big shift, to offer significant pieces of the software, hardware and services portfolio as a service, under the Xcelerator umbrella.
"But Xcelerator isn't just about Siemens hardware, software and services. Partners like Nvidia are an important element of the Xcelerator story," he added.