Model S

Tesla to allow MCU upgrade for older Model S and X for better gaming experience

Elon Musk dropped several updates on Twitter over the weekend, covering several aspects of Tesla’s vehicles. Among these are the release date for firmware Version 10, the unveiling of the Tesla Pickup Truck, some games that are coming to the Tesla Arcade, and even a Media Control Unit (MCU) retrofit that will be made possible for older Model S and Model X vehicles. 

Musk’s comments come amidst interactions on Twitter about the Tesla Arcade’s new titles, which include exciting games such as Cuphead and Fallout Shelter. While responding to a Tesla owner who stated that he would be happy to pay for an MCU and LTE upgrade for his vehicle, Musk responded that it would indeed be possible to retrofit older Model S and X units with company’s newer MCUs. 

Providing MCU upgrade options for older Model S and Model X will further emphasize the idea that Teslas are vehicles that only improve over time. It would, for one, allow even the company’s older vehicles to gain access to some of the newest features found in cars produced today, including the growing library of titles in the Tesla Arcade. 

MCUs in Model S and Model X vehicles produced prior to March 2018 are equipped with 2011-era NVIDIA Tegra-3 chips, which worked well for the vehicles’ basic features but lacked in smoothness and speed compared to the Model 3’s Intel-powered MCU. Tesla introduced a newer, faster MCU for the Model S and Model X in March 2018, partly as a way to ensure that the media units of its vehicle lineup share the same speed and performance. 

While confirming the rollout of the newer hardware, Tesla noted then that the newer media units were part of the company’s consistent drive to steadily improve its vehicles. In a statement to Teslarati, the electric car maker also explained that the new MCUs would not dramatically affect the user experience of its vehicles. 

Tesla was able to buffer the performance discrepancy between its older and newer MCUs by rolling out a software update that optimized the performance of pre-March 2018 media units. Inasmuch as this made the user interface of MCU1 vehicles almost as smooth as the newer, Intel-powered units, later features such as the Tesla Arcade were eventually made exclusive to cars equipped with post-March 2018 MCUs. 

It should be noted that Elon Musk has mentioned an MCU retrofit option for older Model S and Model X vehicles in the past. “Yes, you can upgrade hardware, although we also wrote software to accelerate rendering on old MCU. Coming out soon & makes a big diff,” Musk tweeted as a response to a Tesla owner who asked if he could retrofit his vehicle with the newer media unit.  With his recent comments, perhaps an MCU retrofit for older vehicles would indeed be in order.

Tesla to allow MCU upgrade for older Model S and X for better gaming experience
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