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Tesla Is Working With AMD To Develop Its Own AI Chip For Self-Driving Cars (cnbc.com) 50

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Tesla is getting closer to having its own chip for handling autonomous driving tasks in its cars. The carmaker has received back samples of the first implementation of its processor and is now running tests on it, said a source familiar with the matter. The effort to build its own chip is in line with Tesla's push to be vertically integrated and decrease reliance on other companies. But Tesla isn't completely going it alone in chip development, according to the source, and will build on top of AMD intellectual property. On Wednesday Sanjay Jha, CEO of AMD spin-off GlobalFoundries, said at the company's technology conference in Santa Clara, California, that the company is working directly with Tesla. GlobalFoundries, which fabricates chips, has a wafer supply agreement in place with AMD through 2020. Tesla's silicon project is bounding ahead under the leadership of longtime chip architect Jim Keller, the head of Autopilot hardware and software since the departure of Apple veteran Chris Lattner in June. Keller, 57, joined Tesla in early 2016 following two stints at AMD and one at Apple. Keller arrived at Apple in 2008 through its acquisition of Palo Alto Semiconductor and was the designer of Apple's A4 and A5 iPhone chips, among other things. More than 50 people are working on the initiative under Keller, the source said. Tesla has brought on several AMD veterans after hiring Keller, including director Ganesh Venkataramanan, principal hardware engineer Bill McGee and system circuit design lead Dan Bailey.
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Tesla Is Working With AMD To Develop Its Own AI Chip For Self-Driving Cars

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  • Incorrect story (Score:5, Informative)

    by TimothyHollins ( 4720957 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @09:09AM (#55237815)

    According to Tom's Hardware, this story is a misunderstanding, and does not represent the actual words of the presentation.

    From TH:

    Some media outlets are reporting that GlobalFoundries is working with Tesla on AI technology for its cars. This erroneous report stems from a comment GloFlo's CEO Sanjay Jha made on stage on Wednesday at the fab's annual get-together in San Jose. ...

    But what Jha actually said—which we can confirm because we were present to hear it firsthand—was that GlobalFoundries is trying to attract companies as business models change:

    "As we develop these new technologies, we are also seeing a big shift in the business model and the foundry business. What is happening is that system companies like Google, like Amazon, like Tesla, like Microsoft, are coming directly to foundries. They are working directly with IP companies and system development companies because they want to control the hardware and software."

    Global Foundries is not saying that it's working with Tesla--but that's not to say that AMD isn't working with Tesla. Jim Keller, formerly the chief architect for AMD's microprocessors, is now VP of autopilot hardware at Tesla.
    Last year, AMD lost what Tesla CEO Elon Musk called a tight race against Nvidia for the auto company's GPU/AI business. Since that time, AMD has continued to show strength across multiple sectors.
    The CNBC report said that its sources tied AMD and Tesla together, but neither AMD or Tesla will comment on the situation. The report indicated that Tesla was on a mission to develop its own chip for autonomous cars in order to be more vertically integrated, but that Tesla was potentially relying on building that "on top of AMD intellectual property." That particular wording certainly paints a dotted line to GlobalFoundries.

    Full story at http://www.tomshardware.com/ne... [tomshardware.com]

  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @09:13AM (#55237841)

    Florian Mueller predicts the (German) auto companies will become patent trolls, as the tech industry takes over autonomous car design:
    http://www.fosspatents.com/201... [fosspatents.com]

    Are we going to see a convergence, where tech companies and auto companies team up, or a divergence, where tech companies produce the new vehicles and legacy car companies shrink into irrelevance?

    The only thing I can predict with great confidence is that the cost for a replacement CPU board for a Tesla will be A Lot More than the cost of the constituent parts. (Nissan charged me $1500 for a truck wiring harness after mice chewed the insulation. It's really hard to believe that almost 6% of the cost of that truck was in the wiring harness.)

    • The ultimate outcome will depend on how quickly existing OEM's can adapt. BlackBerry is actually well positioned to take advantage of its majority position in the infotainment arena and just announced a partnership [bloomberg.com] with Delphi to develop autonomous tech for the masses.
    • (Nissan charged me $1500 for a truck wiring harness after mice chewed the insulation. It's really hard to believe that almost 6% of the cost of that truck was in the wiring harness.)

      It certainly is not, although Automakers do tend to use high-quality connectors which are actually expensive in and of themselves. However, they are expensive to produce — even a simple harness without any connectors retails for hundreds of dollars [amazon.com]. Granted, that includes a fuse panel, but it's not much of a fuse panel. My complete engine underhood harness includes a small fuse panel with a relay on it, neither you nor I wants to know what Audi would want for a complete one new but used they run aroun

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Yeah, car wiring harnesses have grown into beasts - it's pretty crazy how much of a car's manufacturing cost they now represent. Shrinking and simplifying the wiring harness has been the biggest "non-EV-specific" issue that Tesla has been focused on tackling.

        • LIN and CAN were intended to reduce the cost of automotive wire harnesses. It's odd (or not, this is automotive we are talking about) that costs and complexity are up.

          Ok, it's not. I have direct experience in the automotive controls biz. GM just discovered the existence of capacitors for despiking in the last year. The automotive sector, at least in Detroit, is chuck full of boneheads.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Autoparts are a weird business with a bunch of international treaties. Maybe the tech companies will break the guilds and cartels.

    • The tech companies are going to be in for an entertaining world of hurt if they think they can just show up and start cranking out products the way they've always done it.

      Automotive, industrial, aerospace, rail and other 'life and limb' companies have done things their own way for a while for a reason. We have functional safety standards that have no 'tech company' equivalent (that I've seen). ISO 26262, IEC 61508, DO-178C, ASIL A-D, etc. From what I've found Intel and AMD don't have any chips that meet th

      • We hear this a lot, but that doesn't explain the success that Tesla has had.

        Sure, Tesla has some reliability problems and some software-related faults with the autonomous driving. But it's not the total catastrophic corporate failure that so many from the 'old industry' predicted.

        And I'm reminded of how people said a bit more than 10 years ago, "No way Apple will waltz in, produce a new phone and change the way the TELCOs work." ;-)

    • In NZ there have been a number cases of people being charged hundreds of dollars for replacement car key fobs.

      The industry answer was " 'Cos we can". The small claims tribunals thought that was a bit shit.
  • in a Tesla to run some AMD gear?

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      in a Tesla to run some AMD gear?

      Don't worry, they are working on Mr. Fusion too

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Is there enough battery power in a Tesla to run some AMD gear?

      Yes, but in hard driving conditions, when all the wheels are loaded, there is a chance of segfault...

  • Complete BS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Groo Wanderer ( 180806 ) <charlie&semiaccurate,com> on Thursday September 21, 2017 @11:16AM (#55238497) Homepage

    I was at the Global Foundries event and the keynote, no such thing was said. The Keynote recordings did not say that either, Tesla was mentioned as an example but the article is badly off base, so badly that it seems intentional. I checked with the speakers in question, other journalists, and the PR people at the show, ALL confirmed the story was not true and what was claimed to have been said was not.

                -Charlie

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @11:40AM (#55238691) Journal
    This really sounds like more marketing/media hype that doesn't know what the hell it's talking about, even graded on the scale of the usual clueless, inaccurate so-called 'AI' marketing/media hype. How the hell do you have an 'AI chip' when we don't have anything like actual 'AI' to start with? Also how the hell do you have a 'self driving car chip' when the technology realisitically isn't even really close to ready for the general public? I think the 'translation' of this 'story' is this: They're getting some proprietary version of an otherwise garden-variety CPU or SoC; in other words, 'Nothing to see here'.
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      How the hell do you have an 'AI chip' when we don't have anything like actual 'AI' to start with?

      Nobody is talking about "generalized AI". The topic of concern is very specialized AI tasks. We have a wide variety of AI systems in use for specialized tasks in our everyday lives - particularly in the topic of image recognition.

      Also how the hell do you have a 'self driving car chip' when the technology realisitically isn't even really close to ready for the general public?

      It's already very popular among many

      • by AaronW ( 33736 )

        One example of the type of processing they need is Google's Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) [google.com]. This chip is designed for offloading much of the machine learning processing that is involved.

      • Just to follw up to your parent:
        Also how the hell do you have a 'self driving car chip' when the technology realisitically isn't even really close to ready for the general public?
        The majour brands, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, and from Japan at least Toyota have self driving cars since a decade.
        The only things missing are full autonomy, as in surround lidar, standards for communicating with humand drivers (e.g. blinking lights to indicate yielding or acceleration) and: legislation chanfes.
        Most brands have

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