George Hotz, CEO of comma.ai, argues that Tesla should sell its self-driving computer chip and create some competition to Nvidia in the process.
Hotz rose to fame through his hacking feats as a teen, but more recently, he has become a highly respected programmer and he founded comma.ai, which aims to solve self-driving while delivering level 2 driver-assist features in the process.
As we previously reported, comma.ai aims to be to Tesla what Android is to Apple iOS, but with self-driving technology.
In order to develop its technology, the startup relies on powerful computers powered by chipmaker giant Nvidia.
Until recently, Tesla was in the same situation and using Nvidia’s chips, but the automaker has developed its own “Full Self-Driving chip,” also known as its Hardware 3.0 (HW 3.0) self-driving computer.
Tesla hired a team of famed chip designers, including Jim Keller, to design the chip.
They claim a factor of 21 improvement in frame-per-second processing versus the previous generation Tesla Autopilot hardware, which was powered by Nvidia hardware, while only barely increasing the power consumption.
Tesla is also developing its own super computer, nicknamed Dojo, to train its neural nets for self-driving.
In a new interview with Lex Fridman, Hotz made the argument that Tesla should sell those computer chips:
Hotz argues that Nvidia basically enjoys a monopoly right now when it comes to training self-driving vehicles:
You basically have two options right now to train. Your options are Nvidia or Google — and Google is not even an option since their TPUs are only accessible through Google Cloud. Google has absolutely horrendous terms of service restrictions. They may have changed it, but it used to explicitly say that you are allowed to use Google Cloud ML for training autonomous vehicles or doing anything that competes with Google without their prior permission.
The computer programer says that he used to like Nvidia, but he believes that the company has changed a lot in recent years following the financial success that they experienced.
Nvidia stock rose from $30 a share to now over $500 a share in about 4 years:
Hotz believes that they are using their monopoly to overcharge for their high-end chips, which benefit from extremely high margins.
Somebody has got to take Nvidia down.
Comma.ai’s CEO believes that Tesla could be the one to compete with Nvidia:
They should sell that chip (Dojo) and even their accelerator (HW 3.0 computer) that is in all the cars. Sell it. Why not? If you sell the chip, here’s what you get: you make money off the chip. It doesn’t take anything away from your chip and the world is going to build an ecosystem of tooling for you.
While Hotz might not be able to buy a Tesla chip anytime soon, Elon Musk did say that Tesla plans to offer machine-learning training as a web service with its new “Dojo” supercomputer.
Would he trust Tesla more than Google with a cloud-based training service?
What do you think about the idea of Tesla selling its chips? Let us know in the comment section below.
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