Apple Car Speculated to Leverage Eye-Tracking Technology With a 'C1' Chip Based on A12 Processor

The long-rumored Apple Car could use a "C1" chip based on the A12 Bionic processor and boast in-cabin AI capabilities such as eye-tracking, according to a highly-speculative report by analyst Colin Barnden for EETimes.

Apple car wheel icon feature purple

The report outlines the methodology and licensed technologies believed to be behind an Apple automotive-grade processor, which it tentatively calls the "C1" chip.

Since Apple will require a chip foundry with capacity for automotive processes, the report suggests that Samsung or TSMC could supply Apple. TSMC is believed to have been developing a 7nm automotive-grade process for some time, and Samsung has developed the Exynos Auto V9 SoC on its 8nm process.

With an understanding of the limitations of suppliers, the report suggests that the C1 could bear a close resemblance to the design of the A12 Bionic chip, which is already fabricated with a similar 7nm process, and be manufactured by TSMC.

Tesla's Full Self-Driving Chip has 6 billion transistors and a power consumption of 36W, falling short of Apple's A12, which has 6.9 billion transistors and a power consumption of 3.5W. Due to its parity with existing automotive SoCs, it is speculated that the C1 will be based on the A12 Bionic, before being modified for specific automotive applications.

I'm certain Apple would make some tweaks, changes and additions to keep us all guessing, but if the iCar is to enter production in 2024, then a lightly modified variant of the A12 looks like a great starting point for the C1. After all, why re-invent the wheel?

With the knowledge that Apple licenses technologies that it cannot design itself, such as Arm architectural technologies and CPU cores, the report proposes that Apple will license a number of technologies for the C1. Foremost is the Occula NPU core from Seeing Machines, which would enable Apple to implement a plethora of in-cabin AI features such as driver eye-gaze tracking.

Seeing Machines has adopted an Arm-like business model for licensing the Occula Neural Processing Unit, making it available for Apple to implement into its own custom chip designs. Occula boasts AI and computer vision algorithms, human factors expertise with naturalistic driving data, IR optical path expertise operating, and a 3-pillar embedded processing strategy. The technology is therefore believed to be Cupertino's first choice for designing AI-driven in-cabin monitoring systems.

There is some debate around how close Apple's consumer vehicle is to market, with speculated launch dates varying from 2024 to 2027. Nevertheless, there has been a striking increase in reports surrounding the Apple Car which suggest that the project is gathering momentum, with Hyundai recently confirming that it is in negotiations regarding ‌Apple Car‌ production.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Top Rated Comments

cmaier Avatar
7 weeks ago
No, apple doesn’t license CPU cores. And an a12 would be inadequate by 2024, especially if this is to support self-driving. Report is rubbish.

And “automotive-grade processor” is gibberish, as well. For cars you need to modify the package, not the die.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
e1me5 Avatar
7 weeks ago
Apple's chip tech is so much advanced, they'll use a 2 year old chip for a future project.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Joniz Avatar
7 weeks ago
Ding-Ding! “Stop looking at her. You're married. Keep your eyes on the road.”

“Please, don’t tell my husband about this, Siri.”
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
7 weeks ago

totally agree ... and the self-serving "computers' will be exchangeable, similar to spark plugs, throw them out and replace with the latest one ... cars will still be expected to last 10 years or so, automotive will have to adopt their current thinking ...
Tell that to Tesla, where my MCU has failed for the second time since 2013. Grrrr.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
techwhiz Avatar
7 weeks ago

Apple certainly has licensed ARM cores in the past.
Apple doesn't license ARM cores. They have an architecture license.
The design their own cores.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jz0309 Avatar
7 weeks ago
click and bait ... someone is out there dreaming ...
yes, automotive is not on the leading edge of silicon technology, but todays technology will not be leading in 5-7 years anymore, plus, if, and imho a big if, if self driving is to take off as so many believe, automotive will have to use state of the art technology and adapt to that ...
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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