Nvidia ‘more than happy to help’ if Tesla’s self-driving chip doesn’t pan out

CEOs from Tesla and Nvidia spoke during their respective second-quarter 2018 earnings calls about new autonomous-driving artificial intelligence chips for the next generation of Autopilot in Tesla cars.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang was asked about Tesla’s previously announced plan to switch to in-house A.I. chips, which are still in development. Huang spoke first about Nvidia’s own new Xavier autonomous-driving chipset and software stack, which he described as “superhard to build” but in production now.

Huang said about Tesla’s chips: “And if it doesn’t turn out, for whatever reason, it doesn’t turn out for them, you can give me a call and I’d be more than happy to help,” CNBC reported.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors during a call earlier in the month that Hardware 3, Tesla’s homegrown A.I. chipset, due next year, i,  “the world’s most advanced computer specifically for autonomous operation.” Comparing the in-house silicon to the Nvidia chipset in Tesla’s current vehicles, Musk said Hardware 3 would deliver an “order of magnitude” greater performance.

CNBC reprinted Huang’s full response to the question about working with Tesla.

Huang referred to 2016, when Tesla decided to discontinue using Mobileye’s EyeQ image processing chips in future Autopilot development and first started using Nvidia’s autonomous solution.

“With respect to the next generation, it is the case that when we first started working on autonomous vehicles, they needed our help. And we used the three-year-old Pascal GPU for the current generation of Autopilot computers.

“And it is very clear now, that in order to have a safe Autopilot system, we need a lot more computing horsepower. In order to have safe computing, in order to have safe driving, the algorithms have to be rich. It has to be able to handle corner conditions in a lot of diverse situations.

“And every time that there’s more and more corner conditions or more subtle things that you have to do or you have to drive more smoothly or be able to take turns more quickly, all of those requirements require greater computing capability. And that’s exactly the reason why we built Xavier. Xavier is in production now. We’re seeing great success and customers are super-excited about Xavier.”

Following Nvidia’s earnings call, Musk replied to a tweet about Huang’s offer to help Tesla. “Nvidia makes great hardware,” Musk tweeted. “High respect for Jensen & company. Our hardware needs were just unique & matched tightly to our software.”

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