At its “Autonomy Day” today, Tesla detailed the new custom chip that will be running the self-driving software in its vehicles. Elon Musk rather peremptorily called it “the best chip in the world…objectively.” That might be a stretch, but it certainly should get the job done.
Called for now the “full self-driving computer,” or FSD Computer, it is a high-performance, special-purpose chip built (by Samsung, in Texas) solely with autonomy and safety in mind. Whether and how it actually outperforms its competitors is not a simple question and we will have to wait for more data and closer analysis to say more.
Former Apple chip engineer Pete Bannon went over the FSDC’s specs, and while the numbers may be important to software engineers working with the platform, what’s more important at a higher level is meeting various requirements specific to self-driving tasks.
Perhaps the most obvious feature catering to AVs is redundancy. The FSDC consists of two duplicate systems right next to each other on one board. This is a significant choice, though hardly unprecedented, simply because splitting the system in two naturally divides its power as well, so if performance were the only metric (if this was a server,