Tesla Self-Driving A.I. Processor

Working with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD: NASDAQ), Tesla is rumored to be running tests on sample processors to continue the push forward to fully autonomous driving.

The present supplier of Autopilot processors, Nvidia, may soon find themselves on the sideline. Partnered with Tesla since Model S inception, Nvidia has so far played a major role by supplying the onboard supercomputer Nvidia Drive PX2 in Models S, X and 3.

Tesla Self-Driving A.I. Processor

Tesla P100 Processor. Image Courtesy Nvidia.

Although Tesla is not quite going it alone with this new processor, the company will be able to build on AMD intellectual property, taking a step closer to owning its own chip. Jim Keller, Tesla VP of Autopilot Hardware Engineering with a pedigree in chip design for both AMD and Apple (A4/A5), is undoubtedly the major influence on expanding the vertical integration conception for the company in this direction.

A Tesla self-driving A.I. processor may come be another one of many areas that the company has found self-sufficiency in, therefore gaining control over supply chain and increasing overall efficiency in the long run.

Perhaps following the Apple model of insourcing, Tesla seeks to become more and more self-reliant. The company currently purchases over 2,000 parts per vehicle sourced globally from a multitude of suppliers, but have generally abstained from entering long-term agreements with any. (Panasonic excluded.) However, the lion’s share of suppliers to Tesla, country percentage-wise, are US-based.

Elon Musk’s high standards regarding suppliers are legendary. With reference to the Model 3 production timeline, he told vendors “If you can make a human in 9 months, you can make a tool in 9 months.” If a supplier should fail to follow through with deadlines and/or quality, Tesla will seek to employ Plan B and bring the manufacturing of the product in-house.