Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally let "the cat out of the bag" about his plans to replace Silicon Valley chipmaker Nvidia's artificial intelligence (AI) system for self-driving cars with its own "super kick-ass" computer designed specifically for autonomous operation.
Tesla's own AI computer is 10X faster than its current autonomous system based on Nvidia chips
"I'm a big fan of Nvidia, they do great stuff," said Musk before adding that using a graphics chip (GPU) is not as fast and cost-effective than a custom chip (ASIC) Tesla has designed and is currently testing in the field.
"But using a GPU, fundamentally it's an emulation mode, and then you also get choked on the bus. So, the transfer between the GPU and the CPU ends up being one of the constraints of the system."
According to Musk, the Nvidia Drive PX2 computing platform - with one Pascal GPU and 2 Parker processors or CPUs - currently used in Tesla's custom autonomous computerAutopilot Hardware 2.5 can process 200 frames a second, compared to "over 2,000 frames a second" with full redundancy and fail-over with Tesla's designed computer.
Tesla's AI chip will be used in Autopilot Hardware 3 which, the carmaker maintains, supports full autonomous driving (level 5) and will ship with its vehicles in 4 to 6 months, Musk confirmed.
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