General Motors’ Cruise develops its own chips to tackle high prices

American automotive giant General Motor’s autonomous driving arm, Cruise, has reportedly begun the development of its own semiconductor chips for the brand’s self-driving vehicles that are set for launch by 2025.

According to reports, reducing costs and increasing volume are being cited as the primary motivations behind the move.

Carl Jenkins, VP, Hardware Engineering at Cruise Automation, explained that earlier the company was paying a lot to a famous vendor for a GPU, referring to Nvidia which is the market leader in making graphics processing units (GPU).

Jenkins stated that owing to the unit’s tiny volume, they could not negotiate, which led to the company to take control and make its own way forward.

This is the first time that executives at Cruise released details on its custom chips, which will be utilized to power its autonomous vehicle, Origin, that has no steering wheel or a pedal.

Jenkins added that although in-house chip development needs investments, it will be balanced with high production volume of cars that utilize multiple chips.

Earlier this week, Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, stated that the custom chips will aid Origin in terms of cost-efficiency in 2025, with personal ownership of self-driving vehicles being more possible from then on.

Earlier this year GM CEO, Mary Barra, stated that the company will develop a personal autonomous vehicle by 2025.

So far, Cruise has developed four chips in-house, a computing chip, a sensor data processing chip, a chip to operate the radar, and another which will be announced later.

The computing and sensor chips will also help in lowering power consumption, effectively increasing the driving range.

Tesla did a similar thing back in 2019, having switched from Nvidia’s products to make its own chips in order to power its vehicles.

Ann Gui, Silicon Lead at Cruise, stated that the computing chip is based on an ARM processor, considering that it was the only one available when the company began development two years ago.

Gui added, however, that the company is also looking into RISC-V, which is open source and more beneficial.

It was also revealed that Cruise is working with a chipmaker in Asia for the mass production of its custom chips.

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