A Brief History of Automotive Performance Chips

Posted on October 28 2021

A Brief History of Automotive Performance Chips

A Brief History of Automotive Performance Chips

By exploring a brief history of automotive performance chips, we can better understand why this innovative technology continues to push the industry forward. Truck and automobile owners who want more power in their vehicle turn to performance chips to deliver that punch. People who enjoy owning these devices should have some background on how they came to be. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have a better appreciation for performance chips and vehicle manufacturing as a whole.

Engine Control Unit

Volkswagen was the first automobile manufacturer to use performance chips in their vehicles. In 1968, the German company introduced the very first vehicle with computer-controlled electronic fuel injection (EFI). In response to tougher emission standards from the government, Volkswagen’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) grew to become a standard piece of equipment in most vehicles. It uses a closed-loop control that monitors the system’s outputs and inputs, managing the emissions and fuel economy.

GM’s Computer Command Control System

Going forward with our brief history of automotive performance chips, in 1976, General Motors announced its partnership with Motorola Semiconductors. The two would create a microcomputer for their vehicles. By 1981, every GM vehicle had a new Computer Command Control System (CCC). It contained a Motorola 8-bit microprocessor.

Ford Joins

Intel and Ford started a venture in 1983 to build ECUs using custom Intel 8061 microcontroller chips. They later used the 8065, 83251, 8051, and 80515. They found special success with the 8061 microcontroller, as it was used in most Ford automobiles from 1983 to 1994.


The average vehicle today has anywhere between 50 and 150 chips. Electric cars, however, are total outliers. They can contain up to 3,000 chips.

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