Does Tesla’s Centralized Computer Architecture Have to have Less Chips?

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Posted on EVANNEX on December 29, 2021, by Charles Morris

Of all the innovations Tesla has brought to the vehicle field, not the least major is the unified laptop architecture utilized in its motor vehicles. This has enabled lots of of the superb Tesla-only functions that entrepreneurs rave about, and it is not too significantly to say that it is been one particular of the company’s finest aggressive strengths. Now latest occasions are highlighting what could be a further major benefit. 

Higher than: A glimpse within the Tesla Design 3 (Resource: Tesla)

Though investigating my guide, Tesla: How Elon Musk and Corporation Manufactured Electric Cars and trucks Great, and Remade the Automotive and Power Industries, I was privileged to be able to job interview Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, who offered some eager insights about Tesla’s devices tactic to its computer software, and this turned out to be one of my favorite areas of the guide. I’ve referred to it in at the very least a dozen posts, and thanks to the ongoing semiconductor scarcity, it looks like I’m likely to get some extra mileage out of it.

The younger Tesla experienced roots in the Silicon Valley tech industry, and its cars had been intended with a solitary laptop operating procedure from the starting. This was the opposite of the way the legacy automakers have been (and primarily nonetheless are) undertaking factors. A usual legacy auto has a patchwork of independent computer systems that command distinctive units in the vehicle. “I’m seeking out the window at my 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, and I wager that’s acquired sixty or seventy digital black packing containers, 3 hundred kilos of wiring harness, and software program from twenty various providers in it,” Ian Wright advised me in 2014.

Consultancy Roland Berger not too long ago told Bloomberg that automakers need to redesign automobiles to use fewer semiconductors. Automakers are hoping that the hated chip shortage will wind down soon, but Roland Berger predicts that serious bottlenecks will persist by 2022.

“Carmakers need to have to pace up the transition to centralized digital architectures and therefore shift to superior and leading-edge nodes,” the analysts mentioned in a new report. A shift to a central design with a solitary onboard computer could drastically lessen the quantity of chips required in a motor vehicle. Roland Berger says the typical vehicle includes some 1,400 individual chips.

Indeed, viewers, my interview with Ian Wright took put seven yrs back. He advised me that the legacy automakers were being “struggling” with the computer software style in their automobiles, and that if they ongoing to do items that way, they had been “going to have a problem.” Nicely, now they have huge challenges. The consulting business AlixPartners believed that the chip crunch charge the vehicle sector some $210 billion in shed profits in 2021. at?v=je9At_CjubA

Earlier mentioned: A seem into the international chip shortage (YouTube: Wall Road Journal)

One more concern is that legacy automakers really don’t are inclined to use the latest and biggest chips. Section of the purpose for the source crunch is that chipmakers are not fascinated in expanding the supply of the more mature-era semiconductors that are utilized in most cars. If automakers would regularly update their chips, as builders of computer systems and consumer electronics (and a specified California carmaker) do, they may well discover output capacity to be much less of a problem.

EVs really do not essentially use much less semiconductors than legacy ICE vehicles—on the contrary, they are inclined to use additional. EVs need to have to convert the AC electrical power that comes from the grid into DC, which is stored in batteries (cars and trucks that use AC motors, as some Teslas do, need to have to convert yet again). This method is managed by converter components, which needs substantial quantities of chips.

As Transport Dive reviews, a typical diesel-run truck utilizes around 500 chips, but an electrical one could call for up to 5,000. The chip shortage definitely has a thing to do with the delayed launch of the Tesla Semi. Final October, Elon Musk announced yet one more hold off, stating that Tesla “should be through our extreme supply chain shortages” by 2023.

Tesla has navigated the supply crunch much more nimbly than other automakers, and we know that at the very least section of this was because it was capable to nimbly swap to more recent, more easily accessible chips. “In Q1, we ended up able to navigate by means of world wide chip offer shortage challenges in portion by pivoting exceptionally rapidly to new microcontrollers, even though at the same time producing firmware for new chips made by new suppliers,” wrote Tesla in its Q1 2021 shareholders letter.

We cannot know precisely how a lot of an gain Tesla’s unified laptop or computer architecture is proving to be when it arrives to dealing with chip shortages, but to paraphrase Herman Melville, there is practically nothing mistaken with reporting a affordable surmise if there is evidence to assist it. A unified architecture is plainly superior. Tesla has it. Other automakers do not.

Laptop or computer hardware and software program are vital to the vehicle field, and as the tetra-pattern (electrification, connectivity, autonomy, new possession versions) continues, they’ll come to be even additional significant. For Tesla, computing is a core perform, and this is nonetheless an additional space in which the legacy OEMs have to capture up, or, as Mr. Wright predicted with basic understatement, they are going to have challenges.


Published by: Charles Morris Source: Bloomberg Video clip: Wall Avenue Journal