Tesla and AMD tipped in development of AI chip for autonomous cars

Ann Santiago
September 23, 2017

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has reportedly tapped a big-name chipmaker to help build a specialized A.I. chip to be used for self-driving systems in its cars.

Electric carmaker Tesla Inc is working with Advanced Micro Devices Inc to develop its own artificial intelligence chip for self-driving cars, CNBC reported on Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Neither Tesla nor AMD responded to requests for comment, but the CNBCreport was seemingly bolstered by comments made by Sanjay Jha, CEO of AMD spinoff GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor foundry, during a conference today that it is working directly with Tesla on producing a chip.

Elon Musk has said that Tesla will deliver completely autonomous driving capabilities by 2019.

AMD shares were up 2.2 percent in extended trading.

If tests prove successful it would mean Tesla would have greater vertical integration, with its own tech in the AI processor, rather than being so reliant upon Nvidia GPUs.

The sources go on to state that more than 50 individuals are part of the team working on this project under Tesla's head of autopilot hardware and software Jim Keller; he joined the company early past year. Keller is reportedly heading a team of over 50 people.

Its current Autopilot system uses NVIDIA chips, but Tesla clearly wants more: by building its own specialized processor, it can create a technology that can do precisely what it wants to achieve, including true autonomous driving. Notably one of the Tesla employees collaborating with AMD is the "chip star" Jim Keller. Previously Tesla used chips from Mobileye, but the two companies parted ways previous year after an accident involving a Mobileye-powered Tesla.

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