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It seems that Facebook is getting serious about making its own chips



The Facebook logo is displayed in the Facebook Innovation Hub on February 24, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.
Photo: Getty

It's been rumored for months that Facebook might be interested in building its own. processing chips. Now it seems that the social networking company is really looking for it. Bloomberg reported Friday that Facebook managed to hook one of Google's leading silicon engineering directors to head its own efforts in the field.

Shahriar Rabii, the former director of engineering in the silicon division of Google, will assume the title of vice president and head of silicon on Facebook, according to his LinkedIn profile. It is not entirely clear what you are creating chips for at this time.

By Bloomberg, Rabii helped lead the Google team that built the chips used in various devices of the search giant, including the Visual. The central chip is in the line of smartphones Pixel, the first integrated system of consumption of the company that is credited in part by the impressive capabilities of photography of the phone. For 9to5Google, Rabii also participated in the creation of security chips for servers known as Titan.

It seems unlikely that Facebook has called Rabii to work on another phone chip as he did on Google. (Facebook was that route once, a bit, and it did not work very well.) But there are all kinds of potential areas where the processing power could serve the social network and its many and varied business arms.

For one, there is Oculus, the virtual reality company that Facebook snatched for $ 2 billion in 2014 and has not yet figured out what to do. Given that Rabii will allegedly work for Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's head of virtual reality and augmented reality, according to Bloomberg, that idea seems to have at least some legs. The Oculus Go, affordable but somewhat disappointing, was launched earlier this year, but it still depends on a Qualcomm chip. Perhaps Facebook sees value in creating its own chip for future models.

Bloomberg reported that Facebook also has plans for a variety of other pieces of hardware that could benefit from a powerful processor, which includes a series of smart speakers that will reportedly include a touch screen designed to be used in video chats.

And then, of course, it only processes the huge amount of data Facebook treats every day. The company relies heavily on algorithms to monitor its platform in search of all types of possible infractions, including hate speech and spam tasks, which is arguably not very good. Many of those processes have modified GPU servers powered by Nvidia, according to The Verge. Proprietary processors that are tailor-made for such tasks can best serve the company.

Whatever Facebook is will have Rabii working on it, it sure seems that the company is being taken seriously. In April, the company began publishing job listings to form its team of chip makers. Now it seems that at least the leadership for the project is underway.

[Bloomberg, 9to5Google, The Verge]

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