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Tesla Model Y Switches From Intel to AMD Ryzen Processors

The infotainment unit in a Tesla Model S showing The Witcher III
(Image credit: Tesla, Inc)

According to Brinkwire, the Tesla Model Y is switching CPU models from an Intel-branded chip to an AMD Ryzen processor for the car's infotainment system. For now, the new AMD-equipped Model Y's are only available for buyers in China. 

Over the past several years, Tesla has worked with all three major semiconductor manufacturers, including Nvidia, Intel, and AMD. Tesla originally used Nvidia SoC's in its older vehicles, but switched three years ago to Intel Atom CPUs for the infotainment centers in Model 3 and newer versions of the Model X and Model S.

Tesla has already switched the Model S and X to AMD's chips, and now appears to be completing the transition with the Model Y. Unfortunately, we don't know why Tesla decided to switch teams to AMD, which at first glance appears to be a strange move given AMD's reliance on TSMC for semiconductor supply.

This is especially true given TSMC's supply constraints on its current 7nm products that AMD heavily relies on for nearly all its current products. Simply put, there's so much demand for TSMC's 7nm silicon from its clients that it's contributing to the ongoing shortages.

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This is in stark contrast to Intel, which owns its own fabrication facilities, allowing the company to bypass some of the supply chain issues.

Despite this, Tesla's move to AMD could potentially be based on performance. We've already seen a Tesla Model S and Model X equipped with a seriously powerful AMD Ryzen APU powered by RDNA2 graphics during the Computex 2021 event.

In fact, Elon Musk claimed you'd be able to play The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 inside the AMD-powered infotainment systems of these new cars — they're that powerful.

For now at least, the AMD-powered Tesla Model Y's are exclusive to China, with no word on if the processor changes will make it to the United States or other regions. We do know that the AMD-powered infotainment systems are only included in the performance versions of the Model Y, with all other versions still using the Intel chips.

So even if these fancy AMD-powered Model Y's make it to other regions, don't expect every car to come with the new hardware, especially with the current shortages. 

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • HideOut
    The "performance" version will likely change in the future once they go thru old supply. No need to run two different systems. More coding work.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Cool. Designed around a chip thats in extremely short supply and high demand. This will work out well for them.
    Reply
  • mitch074
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Cool. Designed around a chip thats in extremely short supply and high demand. This will work out well for them.
    I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this chip is the same as the one planned for the Steam Deck - Intel haven't come out with anything that can compete with that, making Tesla's choice for them.
    Reply
  • Liquidrider
    AMD isn't as constrained as you may think. They have had orders in place with TSMC years in advance. Beyond that I strongly believe AMD will split its orders with Samsung & TSMC. Similar to what happened when AMD had orders in from both GlobalFoundries & TSMC.. Add in that Xilinx and Samsung already have a joint venture.

    Musk didn't tweet "AMD has been great to work with!" for nothing.

    Read the reuter's article "AMD books capacity years ahead to ease crunches"
    Reply
  • Kj1985
    Liquidrider said:
    Beyond that I strongly believe AMD will split its orders with Samsung & TSMC.
    Doubt they will do that. That would end their preferred partnership with tsmc.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Kj1985 said:
    Doubt they will do that. That would end their preferred partnership with tsmc.

    So TSMC will give you a discount on your chips if you ONLY buy from them? Hmmmm I remember someone else that makes chips getting the pants fined off them for exactly the same thing a few years back.
    Reply
  • rluker5
    Going from Intel atom to Ryzen is an improvement. I imagine infotainment use is pretty light so they may want a ULT Intel instead for responsiveness if they are going low power, but considering they were using atom, they probably don't want to spend that much.

    That and gaming on dedicated Tesla hardware is silly when you can get a laptop that will sit right in front of you, or even mount a game console in the trunk if you need better performance. An off center dashboard gaming setup could have a 6900xt and it would still be trash due to the size and location of the display.

    If they have the gpu/cpu for ai assist purposes then AMD is the wrong choice and this indicates they are giving up on that.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    rluker5 said:
    If they have the gpu/cpu for ai assist purposes then AMD is the wrong choice and this indicates they are giving up on that.

    Why do you say this? While Intel has a lot of serious accelerators for AI, that only exist on higher end chips where the money is.

    The move is because Intel is 14nm and 10nm constrained. Margin for what's left of the Atom product line is negligible compared to something like Alderlake/Icelake & Server Chips. So intel charges a premium which no longer makes them viable against AMD's much better performance : price offerings at the ultra low end systems.

    The iGPU portion of the AMD chips include a lot of vector processing instructions which is inherent to AI. (Even on GCN) AMD's semi custom SOC chips provides a lot of power to customers at a reasonable price. $80 for an AMD Semi Custom SOC or $80 for a much older, and less powerful Intel Atom SOC?
    Reply
  • rluker5
    digitalgriffin said:
    The move is because Intel is 14nm and 10nm constrained.
    Nonsense.
    AMD's much better performance : price offerings at the ultra low end systems.
    That's probably the reason. Atom was probably a little too laggy and AMD was just good enough and still cheap.
    The iGPU portion of the AMD chips include a lot of vector processing instructions which is inherent to AI.
    Just because it has some doesn't mean it is anywhere near enough. I bet most modern higher end phone soc's have more.
    Maybe Tesla is just going full cloud AI with it only working via remote connection. Good for a subscription model.
    Reply
  • Kj1985
    jkflipflop98 said:
    So TSMC will give you a discount on your chips if you ONLY buy from them? Hmmmm I remember someone else that makes chips getting the pants fined off them for exactly the same thing a few years back.
    While getting close TSMC does not have a monopoly. And it is not so much a discount as access to their engineers so the customer can make the best product. TSMC does not want to leak secrets to their competitors through their customers.
    Reply