Facebook is quietly working on building its own chips
Facebook is putting together a crack team of experts to help design its own set of semiconductors for use in its own devices.
According to job listings that have cropped up, the social network is looking to employ a manager responsible for handling the build of an “end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organisation.” It’s believed that the project is still in very early stages due to the nature of the listing on its corporate site,
For instance, it states that the manager would need to “identify candidates, hire, schedule, support and train a high-performance team of silicon, software and systems engineers in order to develop products on time and on budget.” If the project was further along, there would already be a team in place at Menlo Park.
Facebook joining along with the likes of Apple and Google in manufacturing its own chips isn’t too surprising. Not only does it no longer make them reliant upon chipmakers like Qualcomm and Intel, but it means it can really develop silicon that works best for the applications it wants. It’s likely Facebook’s AI team will make the most of an in-house development team but even Facebook’s VR hardware arm, Oculus could draw upon custom-made Facebook chips. It’s upcoming Oculus Go headset runs on Qualcomm chips, so a future release could work on Facebook’s own mobile chip instead.
We already know that Facebook has shelved plans for a smart speaker, but it’s only a matter of time until it comes back around and, this time, could be powered by Facebook’s own silicon.
Unfortunately, the job listing doesn’t really outline what Facebook’s plans are for a chip development team. One clear area of interest for Facebook is in AI, with numerous job listings focusing on such a project. While not explicitly stated, it’s likely we’ll see Facebook’s self-designed chips arriving in AI-driven products first.