Tesla to develop its own chip for self-driving cars

Posted September 22, 2017

It looks like AMD might have scored a seriously large contract through electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, with the companies collaborating on a new AI accelerator for self-driving cars.

"We think Tesla will use Nvidia chips for the majority of the AI workloads, while some AMD chips will be develop [ed] for specific computing jobs".

The first samples of the AI chip processor have been received by Tesla and are now undergoing tests by the electric auto making company, according to a source from CNBC.

Tesla aims to deliver fully-autonomous driving capabilities in 2019. But the company is also always iterating on its hardware, eschewing the traditional model year upgrades of legacy automakers.

Over 50 workers are developing the project under the leadership of Keller, including Bill McGee who is Principal Hardware Engineer at AMD and Dan Bailey, the system circuit design leader according to CNBC.

Analysts are increasingly more bullish on AMD's technology and potential in the critical artificial intelligence market following the news Tesla is using the company's intellectual property.

"The Tesla/AMD move has disruptive implications to the multi-billion self-driving market", said Rosenblatt Securities in a note entitled "Tesla AI Move With AMD - Game Changer".

AMD shares closed up 5 percent Wednesday following the Tesla news.

However, with AMD as "the only player in the world that can offer both x86 CPU and strong GPU IP and expertise", it is clear Mosesmann believes Tesla made a smart choice in teaming up with this chip giant. Most recently, its supplier Mobileye didn't renew the contract with Tesla in the aftermath of the death of a Model S owner - autopilot was activated on that vehicle.

Tesla is known for its aspirations to vertically integrate its business as much as possible, and its partnership with AMD could be a move toward that goal.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, said that transitioning from the reliance was a "tough slog" on the vision chip of Mobileye. That doesn't totally preclude AMD, which declined to comment on the report.

At present, Tesla's Autopilot system relies on Nvidia GPUs.