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Tesla Soft-Recalls 130,000 Cars Due to Overheating Ryzen APUs

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

In a report by news outlet Electrek, 130,000 Tesla vehicles were recalled due to a CPU overheating issue found in certain models featuring Ryzen APUs, which can cause the vehicle's infotainment system to slow down or turn off. Fortunately, a software update has already been released to fix the issue.

The overheating problem is triggered during the vehicle's battery pre-conditioning process while driving or during the fast charging process, where too much of the vehicle's cooling power is diverted toward the batteries. This leaves the infotainment's Ryzen APU to fend for itself. 

The only Tesla vehicles affected are certain 2021 and 2022 Model S sedans, Model X SUVs, and 2022 versions of the Model 3 and Model Y. The issue has been confirmed to only affect Tesla infotainment units featuring AMD's more power-hungry Ryzen APUs. Older vehicles powered by Intel Atom processors are not affected.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the overheating issue occurs when the car enters into its pre-conditioning phase, where the car batteries are prepared for fast-charging while the vehicle is en route to a Tesa Supercharging station. However, overheating can also happen when the car is stationary while being fast-charged. In either case, most of the cooling power is diverted to the car batteries, but not enough is left over for the vehicle's infotainment system -- causing the CPU to overheat. We believe this problem occurs because the car's liquid cooling loop is shared by both the infotainment's CPU and the car's batteries.

The only reason it is affecting Ryzen APU versions of Tesla's infotainment system is because of the higher TDP these processors require compared to their Atom predecessors. Apparently, Tesla forgot to adjust the cooling parameters for these Ryzen APUs, which is why they are overheating.

Thankfully there is no immediate safety risk involved with the overheating issues -- like a fire. However, the recall is still required because the central infotainment screen controls many of Tesla's critical functions, including the speedometer, gear selector (Model S, Model X), navigation, climate system and more. Once the Ryzen APU starts overheating, it can cause the infotainment system to slow down severely or force a black screen, forcing the system to restart itself. Either way, the overheating effects prevent users from using these critical functions. It should be noted that primary vehicle functions (steering, accelerating, braking, turn signals) are not affected.

Over-the-air software updates for the affected cars are already underway. Fixes were first pushed out on May 3rd, according to APNews, so we suspect all affected vehicles should have the new software update shortly.

Aaron Klotz
Aaron Klotz

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

  • tennis2
    Seat-of-the-pants engineering right there!
    Reply
  • Giroro
    This is an example of why critical driving/safety functions like the speedometer and gear shifting should not be tied to the car's radio. Imagine if the pilot of an airplane couldn't see their speed whenever the Airplane's only computer was too busy processing games of in-seat poker. Or if they were landing the plane, but the altitude display lagged by 30 seconds because the computer was overloaded by displaying the safety advertisement.
    That's why real-time safety critical systems need to be completely separate from the unessential stuff.
    Cars are heavily regulated, so I'm surprised tesla (or anyone) is allowed to make their speedometer dependent on the entertainment screen. I mean, the steering and brakes still work (which I doubt are mechanical) so there must already be another system in place that could be handling the speedometer and shifting.
    But, this is mostly just another way of saying that the Model 3's dashboard is so ugly and "cost optimized", that I'm surprised it's not illegal. I'm even more surprised that people would actually pay luxury brand pricing for a car so cheaply built that it doesn't have gauges. But, at least I hear Tesla, after so many years, is starting to slightly improve their pervasive "inconsistent manufacturing and insufficient quality control" issues.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    That's a bit of an "oops" Mission critical systems should always be separate concerns and isolated.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    digitalgriffin said:
    That's a bit of an "oops" Mission critical systems should always be separate concerns and isolated.
    Safety-critical systems should also be redundant on top of being independent from GUI-driven non-essential fluff. I'm not a fan of how everything is turning into drive-by-wire where you are one wiring harness away from near-total loss of control. I want physical coupling between the gear selector and at least neutral gear. I want a cable-based parking brake for emergencies instead of electric brakes that only give you the options of on/off assuming they still have power and comms to operate. Etc.
    Reply
  • tennis2
    Giroro said:
    But, this is mostly just another way of saying that the Model 3's dashboard is so ugly and "cost optimized", that I'm surprised it's not illegal. I'm even more surprised that people would actually pay luxury brand pricing for a car so cheaply built that it doesn't have gauges. But, at least I hear Tesla, after so many years, is starting to slightly improve their pervasive "inconsistent manufacturing and insufficient quality control" issues.
    Tesla has cut a lot of arguably "critical" corners in their meteoric rise to popularity. I'm equally surprised that regulatory agencies haven't shut them down. I guess if you can shell out the fine (if there even is/was one), the foul is forgiven.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    InvalidError said:
    Safety-critical systems should also be redundant on top of being independent from GUI-driven non-essential fluff. I'm not a fan of how everything is turning into drive-by-wire where you are one wiring harness away from near-total loss of control. I want physical coupling between the gear selector and at least neutral gear. I want a cable-based parking brake for emergencies instead of electric brakes that only give you the options of on/off assuming they still have power and comms to operate. Etc.

    Hey look at that we agree on something. Cats and Dogs getting along next? :D
    Reply
  • Mandark
    tennis2 said:
    Seat-of-the-pants engineering right there!
    Yep and that’s why I can’t recommend them to anybody. They’re battery tech is great and that’s about it

    Their distain for the automotive industry’s best practices make me not want to buy their products.

    After listening to Sandy Munro after the teardown of the model S and model 3 I say no thank you
    Reply
  • Mandark
    digitalgriffin said:
    That's a bit of an "oops" Mission critical systems should always be separate concerns and isolated.
    It’s because their babes in the woods and they don’t know what they’re doing. They have no idea how to work the costs out of the car and they’re hoping that China solve their problems

    The only things that Sandy Munro was impressed with was the skateboard at the bottom where the battery is he said down there they have it but everywhere else they don’t
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    Im starting to feel Tesla is beginning to feel the weight of its company size. Can't believe this has been overlooked especially there is a component change. Consider also there should be an algorithm to increase cooling to the infotainment system (with a max cooling limit), taking cooling capacity away from cabin or battery cooling.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Is it because the coolant temperature is too high when the batteries are being actively cooled? If so, that would mean the battery packs are over 100C if the APU is completely shutting down. Yikes.
    Reply