GM’s Cruise Develops Its Own Self-Driving Software Microchips5
GM’s autonomous driving technology division, Cruise, has developed its own microchips in a bid to lower costs and increase volume.
Automotive headlines this year have been dominated by the ongoing global microchip shortage, which has forced automakers to cut production and reduce features, including at GM. Now, however, according to a recent report from Reuters, Cruise has announced that it has developed its own custom microchips for use in fully autonomous vehicles in the future. Not only do the custom chips help to reduce costs, but they also also draw less power, thus increasing all-electric vehicle range.
“Two years ago, we were paying a lot of money for a GPU from a famous vendor,” said the head of Cruise hardware, Carl Jenkins, per Reuters. “There is no negotiation because we’re tiny volume. We couldn’t negotiate at all. So that’s why I said, okay, then we have to take control of our own destiny.”
Cruise previously sourced its microchips from Nvidia Corp. According to Jenkins, the investment required for in-house microchip development will be recouped through scale volume of vehicles set to use the new chips. Jenkins declined to state how much was invested into the chip development project.
At present, Cruise has developed four in-house microchips, including Horta, which acts as the primary computational unit for the vehicle, Dune, which processes sensor data, and an unnamed chip that processes radar data, as well as an as-of-yet unannounced chip.
According to Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, the new custom chips will help to bring down costs for Cruise Origin, the company’s upcoming, all-electric, fully autonomous robotaxi. What’s more, the chips will reduce costs for new personal-use fully autonomous vehicles. Earlier this year, GM CEO Mary Barra confirmed the development of personal-use AVs, which are set to arrive by mid-decade.
Meanwhile, according to Cruise’s silicon lead, Ann Gui, Cruise is working with an unidentified company in Asia to produce the new chips at scale. The new chips will first find use in self-driving vehicles set to launch by the 2025 calendar year.
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A bit surprised, but sounds like they are buying most of the IP (ARM now and the article said may switch to RISC-V). The chip biz is not for the feint of heart. Chips such as these will easily have a billion+ transistors, that ll have to be working at speed over temperature, voltage and process variation and be “testable” and bug free. The RISC-V switch is probably to escape the ARM license cost. i wish them luck, they are going to need it.
With the CHIPS act, I would hope they would build the chips here in the US.
I could see the contract with an Asian firm to oversee production, but the fab could be in the US. Maybe. Eventually(?). I hope…
I wonder how long before I’ll be able to order an AV to take me to work in the morning and back home in the evening. Probably be retired before that’s a possibility.
That depends on where you live. People in San Fran, Phoenix and Austin will be able to later this year, in an Uber like service. Limited volume though due to the battery factory only just starting. Also need Origin approval to operate before rollout can pick up speed. If you want a personal version it’s probably 2026 or so.