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Next self-driving Tesla cars to use AMD AI chips

Tesla plans to release self-driving cars by 2019. (Source: Tesla)
Tesla plans to release self-driving cars by 2019. (Source: Tesla)
Tesla intends to release autonomous cars by 2019, and these cars will be equipped with semi-custom AI chips manufactured by AMD. Sample chips are currently tested by 50 Tesla engineers who are lead by ex-AMD legendary microarchitect Jim Keller.

Self-driving cars are making quite a few headlines these days. Tesla, Google and Intel seem to be investing heavily in this type of technology, but these are not the only big names involved. CNBC reports that AMD just landed a major chip design contract, according to which the company will be collaborating with Tesla to develop an advanced AI accelerator for self-driving cars.

The current Tesla care models are actually using custom GPU chips from Nvidia to perform AI-related tasks. However, Tesla wants to take this to the next level and deliver totally autonomous vehicles to customers by 2019. Apparently the Nvidia GPUs are not really cutting it anymore, so Tesla reached out to AMD, since it is already working on the upcoming Navi graphics microarchitecture that should feature AI-specific features. Navi is supposed to be launched some time in 2019, which seems to be around the same timeframe for the Tesla autonomous vehicles.

Tesla has already involved 50 engineers in this project. It also managed to coopt well-known ex-AMD microprocessor and system architect Jim Keller as the head leader for the project.  Keller was responsible for the success of Apple’s A4 and A5 SoCs, and was the lead developer on the original AMD Athlon 64 from the early 2000s, as well as the latest Zen microarchitecture.

CNBC informs that Tesla is currently testing samples of the AMD semi-custom AI chip. This news already prompted a 4.7% appreciation for the AMD NASDAQ shares.


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Bogdan Solca, 2017-09-21 (Update: 2017-09-21)