Tesla might soon have a new AI chip built specifically for its cars to bring the Autopilot system to full-on self-driving status, and it’s probably getting help. The automaker teamed up with chipmaker AMD to design the chip, according to a CNBC report citing a source familiar with the matter.
The report claims development on the project is well underway, and that Tesla is already testing the initial version of the new processor. The chip would be more closely tailored to Tesla’s specific needs, which could speed up the automaker’s work to bring Level 5 autonomy (full-on self-driving capabilities) to Autopilot.
A 50-person team is reportedly working on the chip, headed by former Apple and AMD chip designer Jim Keller, who joined Tesla from AMD last year. The team is supposedly filled with other AMD vets, too.
CNBC also reported that Sanjay Jha, CEO of chip fabricator GlobalFoundries (which spun off from AMD back in 2009 and has a supply agreement with its former parent), mentioned Tesla as a notable company that works with fabricators at a recent event, adding fuel to the AMD rumors.
The companies in question, unsurprisingly, have denied all of the reports.
A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment about the AMD collab when reached by Mashable via email, while a spokesperson on behalf of Global Foundries told us that Jha’s comments about Tesla were “not reported accurately.”
The rep said that Jha mentioned the automaker along with others like Apple and Google as big players “showing interest in working closely with silicon companies to differentiate their offerings,” and reiterated that Tesla and Global Foundries aren’t working together. That doesn’t totally preclude AMD, which declined to comment on the report.
Tesla could be aiming to build its own chips to take more control over its supply chain and lessen its reliance on current chip provider Nvidia. The automaker already had a messy breakup with Mobileye, which supplied parts for the self-driving system before a fatal accident in 2016.
Self-driving tech competitor Waymo just announced its own self-driving processors have been built in close collaboration with Intel. If Tesla has indeed tapped AMD, the automaker is just doing what it can to keep its tech in-house to keep up in the race to develop self-driving cars.