For the third time in the past few years, Tesla is switching CPU models. Tesla’s China Gigafactory is moving on from the Intel branded chip and now will be equipping their Tesla Model Ys with the powerful AMD Ryzen processor to run the EVs infotainment system.
For now, the only buyers who will see this powerful new chip will be those in China. It is unclear whether Tesla’s plans only include China or if the EV carmaker will expand to other parts of the globe. In the past, Tesla first started working with the semiconductor manufacturer Nvidia. Tesla used the Nvidia SoC’s in its older vehicles but made the switch to Intel’s Atom CPU three years ago. These Intel CPUs went into the Model 3 infotainment systems as well as the newer versions of the Model S and Model X electric vehicles.
The Model S and Model X EVs have already made the switch to the AMD Ryzen chips with its final transition being the Tesla Model Y. Tesla has not given any word as to why they have gone from Intel to the AMD Ryzen chip and from all appearances, it looks to be a strange move by Tesla. AMD relies heavily on TSMC for its semiconductor supply. Unless Elon Musk himself comes out with an explanation, we may never know the reason for the switch in China as Tesla’s PR team was disbanded so requests for comments have fallen on deaf ears over recent years.
However, While the move by Tesla may be a head-scratcher at first blush, there could be much more to it. As things begin to get back to normal, the move in China to the AMD Ryzen chip may eventually help with the computer chip shortages as they could start using more readily available parts. This move also makes sense in lower costs since they wouldn’t have to ship Intel chips to China. It may also be setting up a complete Tesla overhaul to using the AMD Ryzen chips across the entire Tesla lineup, not just the Model Y and not just in China.
Even though this is still a seemingly strange move by Tesla, TSMC has run into numerous supply issues on its current 7nm products in which AMD relies heavily upon for almost all of their current products. There has been so much demand for TSMC’s 7nm silicon by its clients that TSMC is actually contributing heavily to the ongoing chip shortages seen across the globe.
Moreover, What makes this move even more puzzling given the above factors is that Intel owns its own fabrication factories. This gives the company the ability to bypass some of the supply chain issues we have been seeing.
Still, despite the supply chain issues and what appears to be a strange move by Tesla using the AMD Ryzen in the Tesla Model Y, it all could simply come down to performance. Musk already showed just what the powerful AMD Ryzen APU powered by RDNA2 graphics could do during the Computex 2021 event and it was impressive.
At the time, Musk claimed that you could play both The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 on the 10-teraflop infotainment system they were building into the new Tesla Model S and Xs. Now the Tesla Model Y will see the same setup, although the Model Y will only have 8GB of Ram, while the Model S will have 16GB. The reason for this is that the Tesla Model Y only has one screen that needs powering whereas the Model S has three screens.
AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed via The Verge what was going with the new Tesla Model Y and others at Computex 2021. “So we actually have an AMD Ryzen APU powering the infotainment system in both cars as well as a discrete RDNA2-based GPU that kicks in when running AAA games, providing up to 10 teraflops of compute power…. we look forward to giving gamers a great platform for AAA gaming,” she announced. Tesla’s Model Y incorporating the AMD Ryzen chip was the final piece of the China puzzle. Let’s see if any other Gigafactories follow suit.