Tesla unveils new full self-driving chip

After dropping Nvidia as its supplier, Tesla revealed it had begun using a new chip of its own creation, which CEO Musk has called "the best chip in the world"


Tesla's new custom chip, the Full Self-Driving computer, which allows for full self-driving capabilities, is complete and now installed in all new Model 3, X and S vehicles, the company's CEO Elon Musk revealed during Tesla's Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California.

The autonomous vehicle firm first said it would be building its own computer chip in 2017 and in October 2018 Musk correctly predicted that it would be arriving in six months. According to Musk, Tesla has been shipping the new chip, which he calls "the best chip in the world", in the Tesla Model S and X for a month, and in the Model 3 for more than a week after dropping Nvidia as its supplier.

At the Autonomy Investor Day, Tesla gave the world the first look at the chip, which is made up of a 260 sqmm piece of silicon with six billion transistors. The company has claimed that its own chip offers 21 times the performance of the Nvidia chips it was previously using.

"All cars being produced all have the hardware necessary – computer and otherwise – for full self-driving," Musk remarked. "All you need to do is improve the software."

Musk's mention of "full self-driving" has proven significant, as while Tesla vehicles are prepared hardware-wise for autonomy, they have not reached a point where they are officially fully autonomous or 'Level 4'.

'Level 4' designates that a vehicle can handle all aspects of driving without human intervention. The new chips are 'Level 2', meaning that they have a more advanced assistance system than most current vehicle models.

Musk did not offer any predictions of when Tesla cars would reach Level 4 but did add that the next-generation chip would be "three times better" and is set to arrive in around two years.

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