Tesla is working with Broadcom and the Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop a new self-driving chip, reports Electrek. The new microprocessor, dubbed HW 4.0, will replace the HW 3.0 the carmaker developed with Samsung, and deployed in 2019.
The Fremont, California-based manufacturer intends to put its new automotive chipset into mass production in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Tesla’s New Self-Driving Hardware
According to Electrek, Tesla and Broadcom designed the carmaker’s new line of system-on-a-chips (SoCs) together, and TSMC will handle manufacturing. The Taiwanese chipmaker will utilize its industry-leading 7nm process to fabricate the new high-performance components with anticipated yields of 25 SoCs per 12-inch wafer.
TSMC will reportedly produce around 2,000 Tesla chip wafers in Q4 2020, likely for testing purposes, and will begin volume production the following year.
Tesla’s HW 4.0 microprocessors will support and control the carmaker’s self-driving systems, power transmission, and in-vehicle entertainment platforms. When Tesla CEO Elon Musk debuted the company’s first self-made automotive SOCs last year, he said the next generation would be three times better.
Electrek predicts Tesla’s TSMC made auto chipsets will appear in the firm’s fleet in 2022.
Will HW 4.0 Enable Level 5 Vehicle Autonomy?
With Tesla moving to a new high-powered automotive CPU, its possible the company could be preparing to unveil a Level 5 fully self-driving car package.
Initially, Tesla sourced its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) chips from Nvidia. The Nvidia SoCs supported the brand’s popular and multifaceted Autopilot ADAS platform, but it moved chip production in-house. The carmaker debuted HW 3.0 hardware at an investor event and claimed it had 21 times the frames per second processing capability of the prior iteration. The automotive chipset supported improvements to Autopilot’s functionality as well as new features like Smart Summon.
However, the electric car manufacturer’s long-promised total vehicle autonomy remained elusive.
Last month, Musk announced his company was “very close” to developing full self-driving automobile technology at an artificial intelligence conference. At the time, the Space X founder did not nail down a timeline for the innovation’s deployment, but news of Tesla using 7nm autonomous operation hardware is intriguing. Combined with its leading-edge software, the firm might have cracked the Level 5 problem that has vexed car brands the world over.
Although Tesla is already the world’s most valuable automaker, introducing the world to a truly self-driving car would push its value to unprecedented heights.