Apple does it, Google does it, and now Facebook is doing it as well. Facebook intends to design its own chips, but it requires an educated team of engineers to do it, so Facebook decided “let’s do it,” let’s design our own chips, too.
Facebook has been posting jobs fitting computer chip development such as an ASIC development manager, asking for someone who can “Build and manage an end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organisation, including all aspects of front-end and back-end standard cell ASIC development”.
Facebook declined to comment on Bloomberg’s report. Its processors could help with AI and Oculus VR headsets, according to a report byBloomberg.
Other jobs are for the system-on-a-chip design popular in smartphones, energy-efficient devices, and for Oculus-related development of SOC processors. SOCs pack modules for handling multiple jobs – processing, network communication, graphics, and other chores – onto a single slice of silicon.
The postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use Facebook wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence. For context, “Soc” means “system-on-a-chip, ‘ and ‘ASAIC” is short for ‘Application-specific integrated circuit.’ As the name implies, ASAICs are specialized chips designed for a very specific objective. Google is taking the ASIC approach with its tensor processing unit for AI, now in its second generation, while Microsoft’s AI program is employing FPGAs.
Facebook is looking at both the chips and analyzing which one to go with. The company could use such chips to power hardware devices, artificial intelligence software and servers in its data centers.