Tesla is not done rolling out its Hardware 3 retrofits to vehicles with HW2 and HW2.5 yet, but the company is already at work developing its next-generation hardware, according to a recent report from Chinese media. This new hardware will reportedly be produced using the 7 nm process, and it will be utilized for numerous functions, from Autopilot and Full Self-Driving to infotainment features.
A new report from China Times has noted that Tesla is working with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to develop its next-generation hardware. Elon Musk alluded to these efforts last year during Autonomy Day, when he stated that while Hardware 3 will be revolutionary, Tesla is already working on a next-generation chip that will be around 3x better than HW3. Musk noted then that the yet-to-be-announced chip was about two years from production.
Interestingly enough, the report from the Times mentioned that the next-gen 7 nm Tesla chip will be set for mass production in the fourth quarter of 2021, over two years after Autonomy Day. The report also suggested that a trial production run for the next-generation chips could begin as early as the fourth quarter of this year, though these units will likely be used for validation.
“Broadcom and Tesla are cooperating to develop ultra-large HPC chips for automotive use. They are produced using TSMC’s 7nm process and are the first to use TSMC’s SoW advanced packaging technology. Each 12-inch wafer can only be cut out. 25 chips. Production of the new chips will begin in the fourth quarter, with an initial production of about 2,000 wafers. It is expected to enter the full mass production stage after the fourth quarter of next year,” the report read.
According to the Times, Tesla’s next-gen chip will be utilized for a variety of in-vehicle functions, including Autopilot’s driver-assist features and entertainment functions. Thanks to its efficient design, the 7 nm next-gen chip will likely be optimized for full self-driving as well, which should benefit the company’s ramp of its planned Robotaxi network.
“It is understood that the HPC chip created by Broadcom for Tesla will become the core computing special application chip (ASIC) for Tesla electric vehicles in the future, which can be used to control and support advanced driving assistance systems, electric vehicle power transmission, and car entertainment. The four major application areas of automotive electronics such as systems and car body electronic components will further support the real-time computing required for self-driving cars. The HPC chip jointly developed by Broadcom and Tesla should be an important cooperation project from electric vehicles to self-driving cars,” the Times wrote.
Tesla is yet to complete the Hardware 3 retrofit of vehicles that were bought with the Full Self-Driving suite and Hardware 2 and 2.5, with owners from areas such as Europe and Australia noting that they are yet to receive the promised HW3 unit. Considering that the company appears to be making progress on the development of its next-generation hardware, it would benefit the EV community greatly if Tesla could expedite its HW3 retrofit ramp to vehicles across the globe. This is especially notable considering that the company is making headway in its efforts to roll out a feature-complete version of its FSD suite as soon as possible.