Inside the AMD RDNA 2 GPU that allows new Tesla Model S Plaid to have AAA gaming experience

Posted on June 15, 2021 by Iqtidar Ali

One of the coolest things about the new Tesla Model S Plaid is its immensely powerful processing that can run AAA games like Cyberpunk 2077 in 60 fps. This gives a car, for the first time ever, PS5-level gaming capability. How is this possible? It turns out that there were some early clues (and salient details) provided a few weeks ago at Computex 2021.

AMD RDNA-based GPU in new 2021 Tesla Model S and Model X.

Above: AMD CEO revealing that the AMD RDNA-based GPU runs the gaming in the new 2021 Tesla Model S and Model X (Source: AMD / YouTube)

At Computex 2021, AMD CEO Lisa Su revealed that the gaming capability in the new Tesla Model S and Model X will be powered by the AMD RDNA 2-based graphics processing unit (GPU). The supplier of the GPU behind the new Tesla Model S/X 10 teraflops of gaming power was unknown until AMD's announcement.

According to the AMD CEO, there are two AMD processors in the new Model S and Model X cars. The AMD Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) runs the normal operations of Tesla's Media Control Unit (MCU / infotainment system) — like maps, vehicle display rendering, camera displays, music, and other basic touchscreen functions.

As soon as the user starts gaming, the AMD RDNA 2 GPU kicks in to smoothly render next-gen games like the Witcher III Wild Hunt that Tesla has featured prominently in prior promotions.

Xbox X|S and Playstation 5 are also powered by the AMD RDNA 2 GPU architecture — this makes next-gen Tesla in-car entertainment on par with the latest gaming consoles. Such a radical shift for in-car entertainment was (quite likely) not anticipated by traditional automakers. This could serve as another distinct edge for Tesla moving forward.

According to the AMD RDNA 2 official web page, "AMD RDNA 2 architecture is the foundation for next-generation PC gaming graphics, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X consoles. The groundbreaking RDNA architecture was first introduced at E3 2019, and since then has continuously evolved to spearhead the next generation of high-performance gaming. It’s the DNA that powers your games, the DNA that brings your games to life, the DNA that keeps evolving." 

At Computex 2021, AMD CEO Lisu Su revealed,"You might be surprised to learn the next place you’ll find RDNA 2 graphics. It’s actually on the road, in the electric vehicle market, [inside] the new Tesla Model S and Model X. So we have an embedded Ryzen APU powering the infotainment system of both cars, as well as a discreet RDNA 2-based GPU that kicks in when running AAA games, providing up to 10 teraflops of computing power."

"We’re thrilled to be working with Tesla to bring the power of Ryzen and Radeon to their newest flagship cars and looking forward to giving gamers a great new platform for AAA gaming," the AMD CEO said. I'm sure those that just took delivery of the first Model S Plaid vehicles will agree.


Top Video: AMD RDNA™ 2 Architecture (YouTube: AMD); Bottom Video: Presentation by AMD CEO Lisa Su at Computex 2021 (reveals Tesla GPU at 11:22 in the video) (YouTube: AMD)


Written by: Iqtidar Ali. An earlier version of this article was originally published on Tesla Oracle.

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