Shahriar Rabii one of Google’s lead chip developers has been poached by Facebook in its ongoing effort to design its own silicon.Facebook hopped on the chip-developing bandwagon earlier this year, when they started to build a team that could design custom chips to power server and consumer hardware. According to reports Rabii’s new role at Facebook will be as a vice president and head of silicon.
Google produces their own custom Visual Core chips for the Pixel smartphones and Rabii, Facebook’s recent hire, had previously led the team that developed them. In his new role, Rabii isn’t likely to be developing chips for Facebook-branded smartphones, but the company is working on several types of hardware that could use a custom processor. Earlier this year, Facebook-owned Oculus VR launched the standalone Oculus Go virtual reality headset that currently relies on a Qualcomm-branded chip. Future models may use custom Facebook chips instead. The company is also reportedly developing its own series of Echo Show-like smart speakers with AI features, and a custom chip may give Facebook a competitive advantage in the home.
The custom chips could also be used to better train the AI algorithms that Facebook has patrolling its site for hate speech, fake accounts, and potentially dangerous content. Right now, the company uses modified third-party GPUs from companies like Nvidia. Designing its own AI training servers with proprietary chips, as Google does with its Tensor Processing Units, could help with the very tricky problem of using AI instead of human eyes to police its ever-growing platform.