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Tesla is Working with AMD to Build New Chips for Driverless Cars

US carmaker Tesla is working together with semiconductor giant AMD to develop its own chips for carrying out autonomous driving tasks.

The company—whose cars already sport the rather advanced driver assist system Autopilot— is reportedly in the process of testing the purpose-specific processors. Creating its own chips, although on top of AMD tech, will allow Tesla not to be excessively dependent on third parties for its driverless car programme.

The news about the partnership with AMD emerged after GlobalFoundries, a chipmaker known to work with AMD, referred to Tesla as a customer during a conference in Santa Clara.

The company later denied the story, as did AMD and Tesla; American news website CNBC later confirmed the rumour, mentioning a source familiar with the matter.

According to the report, creating a purpose-built chip would be crucial if Tesla wants to achieve fully autonomous driving— a goal that company CEO Elon Musk said will be attained by 2019.

The new project is allegedly being run by a 50-strong team under the stewardship of Tesla’s head of Autopilot and software Jim Keller.

Tesla currently employs graphic processing units manufactured by Nvidia to power its Autopilot feature. Still, while able to perform a vast gamut of AI tasks, GPUs are not ideal for carrying out more focused tasks, such as steering a car through a highway.

With this move, Tesla is catching up with Alphabet —aka the owner of driverless car company Waymo— which has already built two generations of AI-specific chips.

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