Does Tesla’s Centralized Computer system Architecture Involve Fewer Chips?

Tesla has navigated the world wide automotive chip lack better than most. It also pioneered utilizing a unified computer architecture. How are these issues linked? What are the broader lessons right here?

At first posted on EVANNEX.
By Charles Morris

Of all the innovations Tesla has introduced to the car market, not the least considerable is the unified pc architecture utilised in its cars. This has enabled many of the great Tesla-only characteristics that homeowners rave about, and it is not also substantially to say that it’s been a person of the company’s best aggressive advantages. Now latest gatherings are highlighting what could be one more big reward.

When studying my book, Tesla: How Elon Musk and Firm Manufactured Electric Automobiles Neat, and Remade the Automotive and Electrical power Industries, I was fortuitous to be capable to interview Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, who offered some eager insights about Tesla’s methods approach to its application, and this turned out to be just one of my preferred parts of the e-book. I’ve referred to it in at least a dozen content, and thanks to the ongoing semiconductor scarcity, it seems like I’m going to get some additional mileage out of it.

The young Tesla experienced roots in the Silicon Valley tech industry, and its autos have been intended with a one laptop or computer working method from the starting. This was the opposite of the way the legacy automakers were being (and primarily still are) carrying out issues. A usual legacy vehicle has a patchwork of separate pcs that handle unique units in the motor vehicle. “I’m wanting out the window at my 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, and I bet that’s received sixty or seventy digital black packing containers, three hundred pounds of wiring harness, and program from 20 diverse companies in it,” Ian Wright advised me in 2014.

Consultancy Roland Berger not too long ago told Bloomberg that automakers require to redesign vehicles to use less semiconductors. Automakers are hoping that the hated chip lack will wind down quickly, but Roland Berger predicts that extreme bottlenecks will persist by means of 2022.

“Carmakers will need to velocity up the changeover to centralized electronic architectures and therefore shift to state-of-the-art and major-edge nodes,” the analysts explained in a current report. A shift to a central design with a single onboard computer system could greatly cut down the variety of chips essential in a auto. Roland Berger says the typical vehicle incorporates some 1,400 individual chips.

Yes, visitors, my job interview with Ian Wright took put seven decades in the past. He explained to me that the legacy automakers were “struggling” with the software style in their vehicles, and that if they continued to do matters that way, they had been “going to have a issue.” Properly, now they have big problems. The consulting firm AlixPartners believed that the chip crunch expense the car field some $210 billion in missing product sales in 2021.

An additional problem is that legacy automakers really do not tend to use the most up-to-date and best chips. Aspect of the purpose for the offer crunch is that chipmakers are not intrigued in raising the offer of the more mature-generation semiconductors that are employed in most vehicles. If automakers would regularly update their chips, as builders of computers and purchaser electronics (and a sure California carmaker) do, they may possibly discover production capability to be a lot less of a difficulty.

EVs really do not essentially use less semiconductors than legacy ICE vehicles — on the opposite, they are inclined to use extra. EVs will need to transform the AC ability that arrives from the grid into DC, which is saved in batteries (cars that use AC motors, as some Teslas do, want to transform all over again). This system is controlled by converter hardware, which requires huge quantities of chips.

As Transportation Dive studies, a normal diesel-powered truck takes advantage of close to 500 chips, but an electrical a person could have to have up to 5,000. The chip scarcity certainly has one thing to do with the delayed start of the Tesla Semi. Past October, Elon Musk announced yet yet another delay, expressing that Tesla “should be via our intense supply chain shortages” by 2023.

Tesla has navigated the provide crunch additional nimbly than other automakers, and we know that at the very least part of this was because it was capable to nimbly switch to newer, much more commonly readily available chips. “In Q1, we had been able to navigate by worldwide chip offer lack troubles in aspect by pivoting extremely quickly to new microcontrollers, although concurrently producing firmware for new chips designed by new suppliers,” wrote Tesla in its Q1 2021 shareholder letter.

We cannot know accurately how a great deal of an gain Tesla’s unified computer system architecture is proving to be when it comes to dealing with chip shortages, but to paraphrase Herman Melville, there’s very little completely wrong with reporting a affordable surmise if there is evidence to aid it. A unified architecture is plainly improved. Tesla has it. Other automakers really do not.

Pc hardware and application are critical to the automobile marketplace, and as the tetra-craze (electrification, connectivity, autonomy, new ownership styles) continues, they’ll turn into ever more essential. For Tesla, computing is a core perform, and this is still one more area in which the legacy OEMs should capture up, or, as Mr. Wright predicted with vintage understatement, they’re heading to have problems.


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