Intel (INTC) is rolling into CES 2024 with some big automotive announcements, including the development of a new system on a chip (SoC) designed to power generative AI features in future vehicles.
The chip giant also announced a deal to acquire Silicon Mobility, a French company dedicated to improving the efficiency of electric and hybrid electric vehicles through streamlined energy management.
“Intel is taking a ‘whole vehicle’ approach to solving the industry’s biggest challenges,” Jack Weast, VP and general manager of Intel Automotive, said in a statement.
“Driving innovative AI solutions across the vehicle platform will help the industry navigate the transformation to EVs. The acquisition of Silicon Mobility aligns with our sustainability goals while addressing a critical energy management need for the industry.”
An SoC is, as its name implies, a computer system on a single chip. That normally includes a CPU, storage, and memory, among other bits and pieces.
Intel says work on its new family of software-driven vehicle SoCs will allow for AI capabilities including monitoring both the driver and passenger and generative AI functionality, not to mention high-def video conferencing, video games, and more.
A software-driven vehicle is a car or truck that can be outfitted with new features via software updates rather than by adding new physical parts. Think of it like an iPhone that gets new capabilities every time Apple fires off a new version of iOS.
Intel is doing more than pitching its SoCs as AI-capable pieces of silicon that can get over-the-air updates for your vehicle, though. The company says that its chips will also help automakers cut down on the overall number of electronic control units (ECUs) in their vehicles. ECUs are hubs that run individual features in cars and trucks, whether that’s for the AC, power seats, or virtually anything else in your auto.
Intel’s chips are already used across the automotive industry, but its latest push is meant to coincide with the broader uptick in electric vehicle sales. Adding generative AI capabilities to cars and trucks ensures that Intel can continue to burnish its gen AI bona fides with the promise that drivers will get a more personalized driving experience from their future vehicles.
The automotive industry, however, is notoriously slow when it comes to adopting new technologies. Heck, even proven technologies that consumers love can get the ax if an automaker chooses to drop them.
Just look at GM’s decision to get rid of Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto in its future vehicles in favor of its own infotainment system. While the offering will feature built-in Google apps like Maps, it’s a far different experience than being able to simply connect your phone and go.
All of that said, it’ll still be some time before Intel’s chips make their way onto the road.
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