All Tesla’s come with a Media Control Unit, which is a computer that powers the main display and all of the multimedia and UX features. We break down the differences between the newest version and the original, and which Tesla’s have MCU1 or MCU2.
Model S and Model X vehicles that were built prior to March 2018 include MCU1. Newer vehicles built in April 2018 and beyond feature the newest version, MCU2. An easy way to check the MCU version is to reboot the display using the controls on the steering wheel. If both displays reboot, then the vehicle is equipped with MCU2.
Every Model 3 built to date is already equipped with the latest version, MCU2. Model 3 owners and prospective buyers don’t have to be concerned with the differences as all Model 3’s will already be capable of supporting every available feature.
Full Self-Driving/Autopilot hardware is completely independent of the Media Control Unit: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features are unaffected by which MCU version a Tesla is equipped with. All Tesla’s built after November 2016 are capable of Full Self-Driving.
MCU2 is a more powerful Media Control Unit, which enables a smoother user interface and features that aren’t available on MCU1. As for the hardware differences, MCU1 is equipped with NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor while MCU2 is based on Intel’s Atom E8000 Series CPU. From a technical standpoint, these are two entirely different architectures.
The release of software update V10 highlighted the differences, as MCU1 owners were excluded from both Tesla Theater and Tesla Arcade. Effectively, MCU1 doesn’t support Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, or any other streaming services that may be added in the future. It also doesn’t support any of the games Tesla added. Additionally, the web browser on MCU2 is much quicker and more capable as it’s built on Google’s Chromium platform.
All of these features are currently designed to be used while parked, so not having MCU2 may not be a major loss to those who only care about the overall driving experience.
Elon Musk has mentioned the possibility of a retrofit in the future to make it possible for MCU1 owners to upgrade to MCU2; however, this is currently not an option and there is no timeline for when Service Centers may offer it. Regardless, Tesla continues to release software updates that optimize the efficiency and performance of MCU1.
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