Tesla is reportedly developing its own processor for artificial intelligence, intended for use with its self-driving systems, in partnership with AMD. Tesla has an existing relationship with Nvidia, whose GPUs power its Autopilot system, but this new in-house chip reported by CNBC could potentially reduce its reliance on third-party AI processing hardware.
AMD would help provide Tesla with development of the chip. The electric carmaker has apparently already received the first samples of its processor prototype for testing, according to the report. Building a specific chip designed entirely for autonomous driving would help Tesla in a number of ways, including gaining more control over a key aspect of its own supply chain, and increasing overall system efficiency and performance.
Tesla has claimed that its current generation vehicles have all the hardware and computing capability on board to achieve full self-driving with a software update in the future. But the company is also always iterating on its hardware, eschewing the traditional model year upgrades of legacy automakers.
Tesla’s autopilot business is run by Jim Keller, who previously spent much of his career at AMD, and then at Apple, where he helped design the Apple A4 and A5 in-house processors. Keller’s key role at the company would likely have influenced the automaker to drive towards owning its own processor design to more closely align its self-driving software and compute hardware components.