Nvidia CEO is 'more than happy to help' if Tesla A.I. chip doesn't pan out

Key Points
  • Nvidia's Xavier system for supporting autonomous vehicles is in production, CEO Jensen Huang said.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously talked up his company's upcoming Autopilot processor.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang speaks during a press conference.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said his company has chips that are ready for autonomous driving, responding to a potential threat posed by Tesla's eventual entrance into the market.

During a conference call on Thursday following Nvidia's fiscal second-quarter earnings report, Huang was asked by an analyst to discuss Tesla's desire to stop relying on Nvidia's silicon in favor of its own customer artificial intelligence chip. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said earlier this month that he was "a big fan of Nvidia" but suggested that Tesla's chip would be able to outperform certain Nvidia graphics cards.

The two companies, which have very different specialties, could be on a collision course as AI plays a bigger role in the future of autonomous driving.

Huang said that Nvidia's Xavier technology for autonomous machines is in production and customers are "super excited" about it. If Tesla's own Autopilot chip initiative doesn't work out, Nvidia would be "more than happy to help," he said.

Here's the entirety of Huang's comments on its collaboration with Tesla and the electric car maker's chip project:

With respect to the next generation, it is the case that when we first started working on autonomous vehicles, they needed our help. And we used the 3-year-old Pascal GPU for the current generation of Autopilot computers.

And it is very clear now that in order to have a safe Autopilot system, we need a lot more computing horsepower. In order to have safe computing, in order to have safe driving, the algorithms have to be rich. It has to be able to handle corner conditions in a lot of diverse situations.

And every time that there's more and more corner conditions or more subtle things that you have to do or you have to drive more smoothly or be able to take turns more quickly, all of those requirements require greater computing capability. And that's exactly the reason why we built Xavier. Xavier is in production now. We're seeing great success and customers are super excited about Xavier.

And that's exactly the reason why we built it. And I think it's super hard to build Xavier and all the software stack on top of it. And if it doesn't turn out for whatever reason it doesn't turn out for them you can give me a call and I'd be more than happy to help.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Musk did talk about Nvidia in a tweet after the earnings call:


Nvidia rallies on driverless car partnership announcement
Nvidia rallies on driverless car partnership announcement