Elon Musk has already said that his team is working on the next two generations of the full self-driving chip which are expected to be 3 times better
Reports emerging from South Korea state that Tesla has partnered with Samsung to manufacture its upcoming self-driving system on a chip which will be built on the South Korean giants new 5nm process. Notably, this is the very same process the South Korean company uses to fabricate the Exynos 2100 processor which is used in the latest Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone. This is an interesting development as it goes counter to reports which stated that Tesla was going to partner up with TSMC for a 7nm process.
“According to related industries on the 25th, the Samsung Electronics Foundry Division is currently conducting research and development (R&D) on 5nm-class system semiconductors to be mounted on Tesla autonomous vehicles. The 5nm semiconductor applied with the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) process is a high-tech product that only a small number of companies such as Samsung Electronics and TSMC can produce worldwide,” the report states on Asia-E.
Tesla’s change of heart could make sense, as vendors like Apple and Qualcomm have chewed up most of TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing foundries which are being used to make the chips for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Mac notebooks alongside chipsets for flagship Android smartphones. Apple for instance also pays TSMC huge amounts which to lock out use of the leading node and also helps fund the upgradation of its facilities.
A 7nm node by TSMC would also not perhaps meet the demands of Tesla which is aiming to have cutting edge performance per watt beating out what Nvidia and Qualcomm are doing in the same space. Samsung’s 5nm tech is considered to be inferior to TSMC’s 5nm tech, but it is certainly a leap above TSMC’s 7nm node.
Tesla’s full self-driving chip was unveiled in 2019. This chip is currently being manufactured by Samsung on a 14nm process. However, its future iterations will perhaps be done on the bleeding edge 5nm process which is coming into action in the latest gadgets of 2021. Notably, Apple’s iPhone 12 series devices, iPad Air and MacBook models which came in late 2020 were the first gadgets to use this node. This has been quickly follow-up Qualcomm with its Snapdragon 888 processor and Samsung’s Exynos 888 chipset.
Elon Musk has already said that his team is working on the next two generations of the full self-driving chip which are expected to be 3 times better and are 2 years away from production. Even if production starts say in 2022, 5nm will not be the leading node which will also free up capacity at Samsung’s end which makes chips for everything from the smartphones to IoT devices.