What’s an MCU? Which MCU do I have? What’s the difference between MCU & FSD? Why does my car not get the latest software features?

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This article uses information adapted from TeslaTap and the knowledge of several in the UK community.

MCU stands for Media Control Unit, it’s the main computer in Tesla Model S and X vehicles and includes the touchscreen, processors (brain), RAM (short term memory), non-volatile memory (longterm memory), the audio subsystem, 5 amplifiers, WiFi, Cellular, Bluetooth, GPS, the Ethernet bridge, multiple CAN bus communications, the LIN bus, USB ports and many more. and the main computer for the car (excluding AutoPilot) there have been to date two versions of this in Tesla cars:

  • MCU1 – from 2012 to early 2018 (March-May) which is based on an Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset
  • MCU2 – from 2018 (March-May) onwards is an upgraded version featuring:
    • Faster CPU based on an Intel Atom E8000 series CPU (x86_64), results in smoother and faster operation
    • WiFi Support for 5 GHz band
    • External Bluetooth Antenna
    • Many of the Fun Games and Video Streaming capabilities

How do I tell which MCU I have?

MCU2 was fitted in “early March 2018”, in terms of UK deliveries that’s probably May-ish 2018 but to be 100% sure you can visit https://teslatap.com/mcu (on the in-car browser, obviously!) to find out which one you have.

Can I upgrade my MCU1 to MCU2?

Yes… but no… Elon keeps saying it’s possible but the service centres keep saying they have no knowledge of it…

Will Tesla Swap my MCU1 for an MCU2 if I have an issue with it?

No, currently they’re still swapping MCU1 with MCU1 builds if it’s a warranty replacement, it’s unclear if this will continue forever.

I have Autopilot 2.0 / HW2 do I have MCU2?

It’s a seperate unit so doesn’t come into it. Use the checks above to see which MCU you have.

I’ve paid for FSD will I get MCU2 in the future?

If you bought FSD Tesla will give you the new AP computer (“HW3”) but that’s unrelated to MCU.

Photo of the MCU1 (thanks to https://teslatap.com/articles/autopilot-processors-and-hardware-mcu-hw-demystified/)

Will I get Dash Camera and Sentry Improvements with MCU2?

No, these are part of the AutoPilot system with HW2.5 or above

So how will I get MCU2?

Nobody will get MCU2 unless a) Tesla decide to offer an upgrade and b) people pay for it.

Do we have an idea on the cost to upgrade?

Not really, it’s estimated that a MCU1 whole replacement would cost you £2,500 so we expect it to be around this price (thanks to Moore’s Law). However, other changes are rumoured to be required as well, e.g. the instrument cluster screen, which means more parts and more labour costs sadly.

If you can upgrade is it worth it?

You will get a faster computer, have improved features but probably the most useful (for everyday use) is the speed up of the navigation and map rendering.


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