AMD may have just received a major shot in the arm, in terms of exposure if not revenue, with the as-yet unconfirmed news that the company is working with electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla to produce a semi-custom processor for autonomous vehicle functionality.

The self-driving car revolution, should it ever take place, needs hefty compute power in a compact size and low thermal profile. Some analysts predict great things for the autonomous vehicle market, which is why Nvidia has been investing heavily in the field with devices like its Xavier system-on-chip (SoC) and the 2013 opening of a dedicated automotive technology centre, and Intel has been hot on its heels with acquisitions including computer vision specialist Mobileye earlier this year.

AMD, though, is claimed to have beaten incumbent Nvidia, which provides the current generation hardware, to sign a deal with one of the most famous - if small-volume - electric vehicle manufacturers around: Elon Musk's Tesla. A report from CNBC (auto-play video warning) claims that Tesla has partnered with AMD and the company's former manufacturing division GlobalFoundries to produce a semi-custom chip for autonomous driving functionality in the company's future vehicles. An anonymous source claims that Tesla 'has received back samples of the first implementation of its processor and is now running tests on it,' though not the financial terms of the agreement.

While Tesla is still very much a bit-player in the global car market, the company hits well above its weight in the public relations stakes - meaning that the deal could prove a boon for AMD even if the high-volume orders it would need to turn a profit never arrive. Unsurprisingly, investors agree: Despite no official confirmation from AMD nor Tesla, AMD's share price is up nearly five percent at close of business and a further three percent in after-hours trading.


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