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Google's self-driving cars have been using Intel chips this whole time

  • Alphabet has been using Intel chips in its self-driving cars since 2009.
  • The partnership with Waymo is significant because it has tested its autonomous driving system more than other companies on California public roads.
Eric Schmidt and Anthony Foxx with Google car
Getty Images

Intel on Monday said that its processors are inside of Alphabet's Waymo self-driving cars. The deal dates to 2009, since the inception of Google's car program.

Intel stock rose slightly after announcing the news in a blog post.

The deal is fascinating on a few fronts. For one, it shows Intel has a household name as a customer in the growing autonomous vehicle market, which will reach $126.8 billion in revenue by 2027, according to the firm Research and Markets.

But Alphabet isn't just another company developing autonomous driving systems. Waymo's vehicles traveled more than 635,000 miles autonomously on California public roads in the year that ended on Nov. 30, far ahead of BMW, Ford, GM, Mercedes, Nissan and Tesla, among others. Also the technology has come to require fewer human interventions. In other words, working with Waymo means powering a solid piece of technology.

Additionally, the fact that Alphabet has worked so long with Intel on cars suggests it might be less likely to replace Intel with its own self-made chips. Alphabet has developed two generations of chips for artificial intelligence for use in its own data centers, and it has also come up with a security-oriented "trusted platform module" processor for use in its servers.

Notably it's not Nvidia that's talking about having worked with Waymo all along. Nvidia's graphics processing units are widely used for AI, and carmakers such as Toyota and Volvo have used Nvidia GPUs in their autonomous cars.

"You're going to see us building custom silicon and custom technology for Waymo," Krzanich told CNBC's Jon Fortt on "Closing Bell" on Monday.