Facebook is teaming up to design its own semiconductors and joining other tech titans who have recently invested in their own chips, according to job openings and sources that spoke to Bloomberg.
A job ad on the Facebook corporate website highlighted by the News Agency is for a manager to create an "end-to-end SoC / ASIC, firmware and driver development organization," suggesting that the initiative is still in the early stages.
It was not immediately clear which specific application Facebook might consider for the chip; Facebook declined to comment.
Developing its own chip, the company based in Menlo Park, California, would join other technology giants hoping to reduce their dependency on chip makers such as Intel and Qualcomm.
Apple builds, for example, its own chips, which make it possible to better control the functions it publishes, as well as the timeline for the introduction of new devices. Apple is now creating its own application processors that act as the brains of its mobile devices, a Bluetooth chip to quickly connect its AirPods to its iPhones, and security chips that protect personal data and biometrics from hacker attacks.
Google developed Chips House to handle AI apps on the grounds that they are 1
Facebook chip job post details
Job profiles can be categorized into two categories: artificial intelligence chips – also known as machine learning – and chips for Facebook's Oculus Virtual Reality headsets.
Some of the jobs are for Oculus-related development of SOC processors – the system-on-a-chip design that is popular in smartphones and other energy-efficient devices. SOC's Pack Modules for processing multiple jobs – processing, network communication, graphics, and other tasks – on a single piece of silicon.
A job is an SOC architect in the computer vision team of Oculus, but there are also several firmware engineer positions for writing low-level SOC software "to support the development of state-of-the-art SOC designed with dedicated hardware accelerator (HWA) for computer vision and machine learning. "
AI is a hot area in technology, and Facebook is an important player that uses it for things like face recognition for photos posted on the social network. But as processor progress slows, some companies are turning to user-specific ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) or adaptive chips, called FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays), which can be adapted to speed up specific jobs. Google is using the ASIC approach with its tensor processing unit for AI, now in its second generation, while Microsoft's AI program uses FPGAs. This is for use in data centers with servers, but ASICs are also widely used in smaller devices.
Facebook at this time is interested in both approaches, according to a job posting for an ASIC and FPGA designer. The job posting involves AI and machine learning as a task, but FPGAs are also useful for the simulation of new chips, including ASICs in development.
Another job post for a leadership position on Facebook is managing SOC and ASIC work] First published on April 18 at 3:34 pm PT
Update at 4:53 pm: Adds Facebook to comment
Update at 17:09: Adds details to the Facebook job descriptions.
The Smartest Stuff : Innovators think about new ways to make you and the things around you smarter.
Special Reports : CNET's profound features in one place.