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06 08 2018 04

A skunkworks team of Tesla engineers are designing a new computer chip that’s purpose-built for autonomous driving, with plans to eventually drop chips from Santa Clara-based Nvidia Corp., CEO Elon Musk said.

The in-house chip effort has been something of an open secret at Tesla for over a year, after the company hired former Advanced Micro Devices executive Jim Keller, who later poached a number of chip engineers to join him. Musk had previously hinted at the project last year, but “let the cat out of the bag” on the company’s after-hours earnings call Wednesday, giving analysts performance data and a production timeline.

The new chips will power a computer called “Hardware 3,” which is scheduled to roll out to customers next year. For the owners of existing Model S, X and 3 cars, the swap will be done at a Tesla service center, where technicians will unhook the existing Hardware 2 or 2.5 computer and install Hardware 3, which has the same connectors.

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