By following the lead of Google and Apple, the company could build processors that speed up its many AI algorithms or even power new hardware products.
The news:Bloomberg reports that Facebook is hoping to hire someone to build out an “end-to-end" chip development organization at the firm. The job listing specifically mentions application-specific integrated circuits (ASICS), which are built to perform very particular tasks, such as facial recognition, as efficiently as possible. It also mentions system-on-a-chip (SoC) hardware, which is often used in mobile products or small devices—the likes of which Facebook could put inside its Oculus VR headset or a (currently delayed) smart speaker.
Why it matters: Chips are a multibillion-dollar business, and cutting out a middleman, like Intel, helps save a lot of money. Plus, as Moore’s Law grinds to a halt, it’s getting harder and harder to find speed gains in general-purpose chips—so designing new ones for very specific, in-house tasks helps firms boost performance. Facebook will hope it can cut costs and make speed improvements.
Joining the ranks: More and more tech companies are manufacturing chips, threatening the business of companies like Qualcomm, Intel, and Nvidia. Google is building AI chips to power its data centers and open-source software. Apple keeps developing new chips to run its mobile products. And Microsoft just announced its latest chip, built for IoT products.