Could Tesla be about to make its own silicon?

Could Tesla be about to make its own silicon?

Elon Musk

“Tesla could do it…” Musk mused

Although tech giants like Samsung and TSMC currently dominate the silicon landscape, Elon Musk has hinted that Tesla could potentially make its own chips in the future – and while the idea remains a tentative one, it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

Tesla spends a fortune on silicon. Its Dojo ExaPod supercomputer boasts a staggering 1.1 exaflops of computing power dedicated to training machine learning models for Tesla’s self-driving technology. Musk said in February 2024 that the company will spend “over a billion dollars” on Nvidia and AMD hardware this year just to stay competitive in the AI space. Making its own AI chips would be impossible for Tesla, but it could potentially produce chips for its cars.

Currently, Tesla relies on Samsung for the main chips used in its Autopilot feature. Building a chip factory to create processors specifically for that task would be a significant undertaking. Significant, but not impossible.

“Tesla could do it…”

A recent X exchange between Musk and legendary game developer John Carmack has sparked speculation. Carmack mused about the feasibility of a large tech company creating its own bespoke chips rather than competing with established general-purpose companies. Musk’s response? “Tesla could do it, but I sure hope we don’t have to.”

With growing concerns over the reliance on Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese chipmakers, the possibility of bringing some silicon development in-house is no doubt tempting for Tesla, but the practicalities of such an undertaking mean that without a compelling reason to do so, the company will wisely stick with the status quo for now.

As PC Gamer reports, “Nobody in their right mind would want to spend billions of dollars on something that has the distinct potential of not working right for years, when you can just contract a highly experienced and cost-effective business to do it for you.”

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