Does Tesla’s Centralized Computer Architecture Require Fewer Chips?

This article involves us courtesy of EVANNEX, which makes and sells aftermarket Tesla equipment. The opinions expressed therein are usually not essentially our personal at InsideEVs, nor have we been paid by EVANNEX to publish these articles. We discover the corporate’s perspective as an aftermarket provider of Tesla equipment attention-grabbing and are joyful to share its content material freed from cost. Enjoy! Posted on EVANNEX on December 29, 2021, by Charles Morris Of all of the improvements Tesla has dropped at the auto business, not the least important is the unified laptop structure utilized in its automobiles. This has enabled most of the fantastic Tesla-only options that homeowners rave about, and it’s not an excessive amount of to say that it’s been one of many firm’s best aggressive benefits. Now present occasions are highlighting what may very well be one other main profit.  Above: A glance contained in the Tesla Model 3 (Source: Tesla) While researching my e book, Tesla: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool, and Remade the Automotive and Energy Industries, I used to be lucky to have the ability to interview Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, who provided some eager insights about Tesla’s techniques method to its software program, and this turned out to be considered one of my favourite components of the e book. I’ve referred to it in a minimum of a dozen articles, and due to the continuing semiconductor scarcity, it appears to be like like I’m going to get some extra mileage out of it. The younger Tesla had roots within the Silicon Valley tech business, and its automobiles had been designed with a single laptop working system from the start. This was the other of the way in which the legacy automakers had been (and principally nonetheless are) doing issues. A typical legacy automobile has a patchwork of separate computer systems that management completely different techniques within the automobile. “I’m searching the window at my 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, and I wager that’s acquired sixty or seventy digital black bins, 300 kilos of wiring harness, and software program from twenty completely different firms in it,” Ian Wright instructed me in 2014. Consultancy Roland Berger just lately instructed Bloomberg that automakers want to revamp automobiles to make use of fewer semiconductors. Automakers are hoping that the hated chip scarcity will wind down quickly, however Roland Berger predicts that extreme bottlenecks will persist by means of 2022. “Carmakers want to hurry up the transition to centralized digital architectures and thereby transfer to superior and modern nodes,” the analysts stated in a latest report. A shift to a central design with a single onboard laptop might drastically cut back the variety of chips wanted in a automobile. Roland Berger says the typical automobile incorporates some 1,400 separate chips. Yes, readers, my interview with Ian Wright passed off seven years in the past. He instructed me that the legacy automakers had been “struggling” with the software program design of their automobiles, and that in the event that they continued to do issues that manner, they had been “going to have an issue.” Well, now they’ve huge issues. The consulting agency AlixPartners estimated that the chip crunch price the auto business some $210 billion in misplaced gross sales in 2021.  Above: A glance into the worldwide chip scarcity (YouTube: Wall Street Journal) Another problem is that legacy automakers don’t have a tendency to make use of the most recent and best chips. Part of the rationale for the availability crunch is that chipmakers aren’t fascinated by growing the availability of the older-generation semiconductors which might be utilized in most automobiles. If automakers would recurrently replace their chips, as builders of computer systems and client electronics (and a sure California carmaker) do, they could discover manufacturing capability to be much less of an issue. EVs don’t essentially use fewer semiconductors than legacy ICE automobiles—quite the opposite, they have a tendency to make use of extra. EVs must convert the AC energy that comes from the grid into DC, which is saved in batteries (automobiles that use AC motors, as some Teslas do, must convert once more). This course of is managed by converter {hardware}, which requires giant numbers of chips. As Transport Dive studies, a typical diesel-powered truck makes use of round 500 chips, however an electrical one might require as much as 5,000. The chip scarcity absolutely has one thing to do with the delayed launch of the Tesla Semi. Last October, Elon Musk introduced yet one more delay, saying that Tesla “ought to be by means of our extreme provide chain shortages” by 2023. Tesla has navigated the availability crunch extra nimbly than different automakers, and we all know that a minimum of a part of this was as a result of it was capable of nimbly change to newer, extra available chips. “In Q1, we had been capable of navigate by means of world chip provide scarcity points partially by pivoting extraordinarily shortly to new microcontrollers, whereas concurrently creating firmware for brand spanking new chips made by new suppliers,” wrote Tesla in its Q1 2021 shareholders letter. We can’t know precisely how a lot of a bonus Tesla’s unified laptop structure is proving to be in the case of coping with chip shortages, however to paraphrase Herman Melville, there’s nothing mistaken with reporting an inexpensive surmise if there’s proof to help it. A unified structure is plainly higher. Tesla has it. Other automakers don’t. Computer {hardware} and software program are essential to the auto business, and because the tetra-trend (electrification, connectivity, autonomy, new possession fashions) continues, they’ll grow to be much more necessary. For Tesla, computing is a core perform, and that is yet one more space wherein the legacy OEMs should catch up, or, as Mr. Wright predicted with basic understatement, they will have issues. === Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Bloomberg; Video: Wall Street Journal

Recommended For You