Facebook Building Team To Design Own Chips – Report

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Artifical intelligence move? Facebook is reportedly building a team to design its own semiconductors

Facebook is reportedly looking to wean itself off its dependency on chip giant Intel, with the creation of a team to design its own semiconductors.

This is the speculation after Facebook placed a job posting on its corporate website, seeking a manager to build an “end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organisation.”

This would suggest that the social network is still in very early stages of the process, but the move would add to Facebook’s existing hardware expertise in the server environment.

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Inside Facebook’s Swedish data centre

Hardware intentions

The news that Facebook is seeking to develop its own chips was reported by Bloomberg, which cited the job listings and people familiar with the matter.

If true, it would mean Facebook has become the latest tech firm seeking to develop its own silicon. Apple have shipped its own chips and now uses them across many of its major product lines.

The iPad maker had been designing its own iPhone processors since the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010 and has steadily been ramping up its chip design efforts.

Earlier this month it was reported that Apple was looking to stop using Intel processors in its Mac computers, and instead utilise its own inhouse central processing units (CPUs).

Google meanwhile is known to have developed its own artificial intelligence chip, as well as a chip for quantum computing.

Facebook would of course utilise any resulting inhouse developed processors to power its servers, artificial intelligence software located within its data centres.

And lets not forget that Facebook also makes consumer facing hardware in the form of the Oculus virtual reality headsets, most of which currently utilise Qualcomm processors.

The social network is also rumoured to be developing its own range of smart speakers.

Inhouse silicon

By designing its own silicon, the thinking is that Facebook could gain finer control over product development and would be able to better tune its software and hardware together.

Facebook reportedly declined to comment on the job postings.

Bloomberg said that Facebook’s job postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use it wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence.

This is because a job listing references “expertise to build custom solutions targeted at multiple verticals including AI/ML,” indicating that the chip work could focus on a processor for artificial intelligence tasks.

And Facebook AI researcher Yann LeCun reportedly tweeted about some of the job postings earlier this week, asking for candidates interested in designing chips for AI.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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