Facebook Inc. is building a team to design its own semiconductors, which contributes to a trend among technology companies to supply themselves and reduce their dependency on chip manufacturers like Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc., for job opportunities and persons familiar with the matter.
The social media company is seeking a manager to create an "end-to-end SoC / ASIC, firmware and driver development organization," according to a job listing on its corporate website, suggesting that efforts are still in its infancy.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company would develop other technology giants connecting chips. In 201
Facebook could use such chips to run hardware, artificial intelligence and servers in its data centers. Next month, the company will launch the Oculus Go, a stand-alone $ 200 virtual reality headset running on a Qualcomm processor. Facebook is also working on a lot of smart speakers. Future generations of these devices could be enhanced by custom chipsets. By using its own processors, the company would have better control over product development and would be able to better align software and hardware.
Facebook declined to comment on job postings.
A chip or SOC system is a type of semiconductor that contains several discrete components built into a piece of silicon. They are typically used in mobile devices where their space and power-saving features are more valuable. The main features of most smartphones are provided by SOCs.
An ASIC or an application specific integrated circuit is a chip designed for a narrow purpose. Such components are often the fastest or most efficient in running certain software. Their weakness is that they are locked and can become redundant over time as software and workloads evolve.
The posts have not made clear what kind of use Facebook would like to put the chips on other than the broad screen of artificial intelligence. A job posting refers to "know-how to create tailor-made solutions for multiple industries including AI / ML," suggesting that the chip work could focus on an artificial intelligence processor.
Facebook AI researcher Yann LeCun tweeted about some of the job advertisements on Wednesday after candidates interested in designing the chips for AI
– With support from Mark Bergen