Nvidia and AMD compete against each other in the world of graphics cards, but the companies have become rivals in another field: self-driving technology. Tesla is reportedly working with AMD on a new processor for autonomous cars, thereby decreasing its reliance on Nvidia, whose GPUs are used in the company's Autopilot system.
According to a report by CNBC, Tesla has already received the first prototype samples of the processor and is running tests on it. The news comes not long after Tesla’s vice president of Autopilot autonomous driving technology — Apple veteran Chris Lattner — departed in June. He was replaced by former AMD executive Jim Keller, who also worked at Apple and was the lead designer behind the company’s A4 and A5 chips, amongst others.
For years, Tesla had partnered with MobileEye for the image-recognition hardware in its Autopilot technology, but the Israeli company ended the relationship last July following a fatal crash involving the semi-autonomous system. In an interview with Reuters at the time, co-founder Amnon Shashua said that Autopilot “is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner.”
In a move to bolster its own self-driving technology ambitions, Intel acquired MobileEye for $15.3 billion back in March this year. Chipzilla recently announced a partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo to build fully self-driving cars.
Elon Musk has said that Tesla will deliver completely autonomous driving capabilities by 2019. By partnering with a company like AMD to produce its own AI chip, that target looks increasingly achievable.
While neither company has commented on the matter, the news saw AMD’s share price end the day up 5 percent and continue to climb after hours.