Meet Tesla’s self-driving car computer and its two AI brains
Tesla’s in-house chip is 21 times faster than the older Nvidia model Tesla used. And each car’s computer has two for safety.
Designing your own chips is hard. But Tesla, one of the most aggressive developers of autonomous vehicle technology, thinks it’s worth it. The company shared details Tuesday about how it fine-tuned the design of its AI chips so two of them are smart enough to power its cars’ upcoming “full self-driving” abilities.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and his colleagues revealed the company’s third-generation computing hardware in April. But at the Hot Chips conference Tuesday, chip designers showed how heavy optimizations in Tesla’s custom AI chips dramatically boosted performance — a factor of 21 compared to the earlier Nvidia chips. As a bonus, they’re only 80% the cost, too.
The company needed better hardware to achieve its 2019 full self-driving goal, in which cars navigate not only freeways as today but also local streets with stop signs and traffic lights. “It was clear to us, in order to meet our performance levels at the power constraints and the form factor constraints we had, we had to design something of our own,” said Ganesh Venkataramanan, one of the chip designers and a former AMD processor engineer.
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