It looks like Facebook is in nascent stages of developing its own chips to power its devices and servers. With this move, Facebook wants become more self-reliant and ends its dependence to other chip companies such as Qualcomm.
The company has also posted a job opening to hire a manager tasked with assembling an “end-to-end SoC / ASIC, firmware, and driver development organisation, said a report in the Bloomberg.
If the move goes through, Facebook will join the list of Apple, Google and Amazon – companies that are currently designing chips in house. Apple already designs chips for its iOS devices and is reportedly planning to replace the Intel processors in Mac computers with its own. Google produces custom AI chips and incorporated its first consumer-focused silicon (an image processor) in the Pixel 2 last year. And with the ongoing hardware battle between Facebook and Apple, we believe Facebook has much bigger ambitions. Amazon is said to be developing chips to improve Alexa’s AI smarts.
The job listing is tagged under infrastructure category hinting that the design team will be responsible toward developing Facebook’s artificial intelligence servers. Currently, Facebook’s AI systems are Nvidia-powered. Earlier CEO Mark Zuckerberg has emphasised on utilising AI deep into our lives, but a viable solution is yet to be seen from Facebook.
The company might also power smart speakers or future Oculus virtual reality headsets with its own chips. This would allow Facebook to create optimisations only possible when hardware and software are tightly integrated throughout the entire development process.
Facebook is planning to launch two new smart speakers in July. Codenamed Aloha and Fiona, Facebook’s direct rival to Amazon’s Alexa will come with 15-inch touchscreen by LG.
In August of 2017, Facebook was said to be working on two separate speakers with Apple "Siri-like" voice assistants. As of now there has been no official word from Facebook about these devices, and no images have been released yet.