Intel Ventures Into Automotive AI Chips, Acquires Startup Silicon Mobility

Intel has announced plans to introduce its AI-driven chips for the automotive industry, especially to offer the semiconductors designed to power the future vehicles.
Intel AI chips for vehicles
This move, AI Everywhere strategy, places Intel in direct competition with industry stalwarts such as Qualcomm and Nvidia in the automotive semiconductor market.

In addition to the chip revelation, Intel unveiled its acquisition of Silicon Mobility, a French startup specializing in system-on-a-chip technology and software for controlling electric vehicle motors and onboard charging systems. While the purchase price remained undisclosed, the acquisition involved a closely held company overseen by venture funds Cipio Partners and Capital-E.

During the CES technology show in Las Vegas, Jack Weast, Intel’s automotive business chief, revealed that Chinese automaker Geely’s Zeekr would be the pioneering adopter of Intel’s AI system-on-a-chip, aiming to create an enhanced living room experience within vehicles. This innovation includes integrating AI voice assistants and video conferencing capabilities.

Andy An, president of Geely Holding and CEO of Zeekr Company, explained how forward-compatibility on Intel systems combined with Intel AI acceleration will allow Zeekr to continually scale and upgrade services to enable next-gen experiences customers demand, such as generative AI-based voice assistants.

Jack Weast highlighted that Intel’s forthcoming automotive system-on-a-chip products would adapt the recently launched AI PC technology to meet the durability and performance prerequisites of vehicular applications.

While Intel has already provided chips for infotainment systems installed in approximately 50 million vehicles, the company aims to regain its foothold in the automotive industry, which has seen Nvidia and Qualcomm emerge as dominant players in supplying potent semiconductors essential for automated driving, upgradable vehicle system software, and intricate dashboard displays, Reuters news report said.

Addressing concerns about Intel’s past communication strategy, Jack Weast expressed determination to change the narrative and outlined Intel’s strategy of providing chips that cater to automakers across the spectrum, from entry-level vehicles to premium models.

Contrary to Nvidia’s high-power and costly products for AI in vehicles, Intel aims to offer scalable chips adaptable for various vehicle segments. Nvidia, in collaboration with MediaTek of Taiwan, has previously ventured into offering lower-cost chip sets, particularly targeting Android-based infotainment displays in budget-friendly vehicles.

Jack Weast emphasized the fierce competition within China’s surging electric vehicle market, where chip manufacturers vie to supply advanced infotainment systems and automated driving solutions. Notably, Zeekr stands as a shared customer utilizing both Intel and Nvidia’s technologies.

Intel further asserted its commitment to remaining agnostic in terms of technology choices for automated driving or other functions, allowing automakers the flexibility to integrate their own chiplets into Intel’s system, thus enabling specific functionalities at a reduced cost.