Sunday, August 5, 2018

"Tesla says it’s dumping Nvidia chips for a homebrew alternative" (TSLA)

Tesla has been saying similar stuff for a while now.*
This bit was in the conference call but Ars fleshes it out some..

From Ars Technica:
Tesla tapped an Apple chip guru to design next-generation AI chips.
Tesla is creating its own chips optimized for machine learning, CEO Elon Musk said during a call with investors on Wednesday. Musk acknowledged the rumored project last December but is now providing more details.
"We've been in semi-stealth mode for the last two to three years," Musk said.
During that time, Tesla created what Musk described as "the world's most advanced computer specifically for autonomous operation."
Musk said that the new chip, due out next year, will deliver an "order of magnitude improvement in operations per second" compared to "current Nvidia hardware." And the new hardware is designed to be backward-compatible with the current generation of Tesla vehicles, allowing Tesla to swap out the old hardware to give current cars a big performance boost.

The decision to make the chip backward-compatible with current Tesla vehicles may be a tacit admission that the "hardware 2" chip Tesla began shipping two years ago was not, in fact, powerful enough for full self-driving capabilities, despite being marketed as self-driving capable. Musk didn't specify when upgrades might be available to existing Tesla owners or if those upgrades would be offered for free or require an additional payment.

Tesla hired an Apple chip guru for the project
Tesla's chip efforts have been spearheaded by Pete Bannon, an engineer who oversaw the development of the A5 chip at the heart of the iPhone 5 and worked on a number of iPhone chips since then....

*Our thinking last September hasn't changed much:

NVIDIA Partner Tesla Reportedly Developing Chip With AMD (TSLA; NVDA; AMD)
Today in leveraged WTFs....

And December 2017:
"During a talk at a private party, Elon Musk said Tesla is developing specialized AI hardware "'That we think will be the best in the world;" (TSLA)

And April 2017 
We've said NVIDIA probably has a couple year head start but this bears watching, so to speak....
The only reason for Tesla to do this is that NVIDIA's chips are general purpose whereas specialized chips are making inroads in stuff like crypto mining (ASICs), Google's Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) for machine learning and Facebook's hardware efforts.

In May, 2018 we met a person who knows about this stuff:

 AI VC: "We Are Here To Create"
Sometimes the competition is just plain intimidating/scary/resistance-is-futile, smart.
"KAI-FU LEE, the founder of the Beijing-based Sinovation Ventures, is ranked #1 in technology in China by Forbes. Educated as a computer scientist at Columbia and Carnegie Mellon, his distinguished career includes working as a research scientist at Apple; Vice President of the Web Products Division at Silicon Graphics; Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and founder of Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, one of the world’s top research labs; and then Google Corporate President and President of Google Greater China. As an Internet celebrity, he has fifty million+ followers on the Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo. As an author, among his seven bestsellers in the Chinese language, two have sold more than one million copies each. His first book in English is AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order (forthcoming, September). Kai-Fu Lee's Edge Bio page"
Much Much More 

In March 2017 we thought NVIDIA had a couple year head start so it's probably time to do some number-crunching.