The project has been in development since the last three years.
The indigenous chip to be installed in all the models and will cost no more than existing technology.
For the last 3 years, Tesla has been covertly working on a custom-built chip for handling autonomous cars that is now close to fruition. The Tesla-built chip is meant to be infused into its models S, X and 3 to do all the number-crunching that will enhance the self-driving ability of those cars.
Tesla has been very ambitious with its self-driving cars projects and has always been among the big players as well. What makes Tesla stand out is the fact that they are focusing on developing their own silicon for performing AI computations rather than relying on existing chip makers like NVIDIA who have been providing Tesla with chips until now. The self driving demonstration by Tesla speaks on how the system would visually look. “We had the benefit of knowing what our neural networks look like, and what they’ll look like in the future,” said Pete Bannon, director of the Hardware 3 project.
“We’ve been in semi-stealth mode on this basically for the last 2-3 years, I think it’s probably time to let the cat out of the bag…” – Elon Musk.
The hardware 3 chips support the current networks running today in the cars at full frame rates with a lot of idle cycles to spare which speaks for the efficiency of the chips. The team plans to invest more and explore this technology to the fullest as fast as possible, said Elon Musk.
The system will cost the same amount as systems Tesla currently puts in its cars, but will bring much more processing power. “The key, is to be able to run the neural network at a fundamental, bare-metal level. You have to do these calculations in the circuit itself, not in some sort of emulation mode, which is how a GPU or CPU would operate. You want to do a massive amount of (calculations) with the memory right there.”
Tesla has earned the reputation as a game-changer with ambitious projects like SpaceX and self-driving cars, successfully setting up a paradigm in the world of evolving technology. With Hardware 3, Tesla aims to enhance not only the performance of its cars but also reduce reliance on other vendors. As far as how these chips will be infused in the existing models, Elon Musk says: “We made it easy to switch out the computer, and that’s all that needs to be done. You take out one computer, and plug in the next. All the connectors are compatible.”
Exciting times indeed!