Tesla to develop its own chip for self-driving cars

It looks like AMD might have scored a seriously large contract through electric auto maker Tesla Motors, with the companies collaborating on a new AI accelerator for self-driving cars.

Electric carmaker Tesla Inc is working with Advanced Micro Devices Inc to develop its own artificial intelligence chip for self-driving cars, CNBC reported on Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Working with AMD to build a self-driving processor will allow Tesla to rely less on other companies - although its new chip will reportedly be based on AMD intellectual property.

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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. Building a specific chip designed entirely for autonomous driving would help Tesla in a number of ways, including gaining more control over a key aspect of its own supply chain, and increasing overall system efficiency and performance. However, neither Tesla nor AMD have commented on the report.

AMD shares closed up 62 cents, or nearly 5%, at $13.74, following CNBC's headline, and are up another 87 cents, over 6%, at $14.62, in late trading.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said it has been a "tough slog" transitioning from the reliance on Mobileye's vision chips.

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More than 50 people are working on the initiative under Keller, the source said. Notably one of the Tesla employees collaborating with AMD is the "chip star" Jim Keller.

Tesla's Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles use Nvidia Corp's products for their self-driving capabilities. Previously Tesla used chips from Mobileye, but the two companies parted ways a year ago after an accident involving a Mobileye-powered Tesla.

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  • Kelly Blake