Facebook Might Build Its Own Processors for Smart Devices

Intel and Qualcomm have the lion’s share of the processor market, but some companies are trying to whittle down their dependency on those institutions.

Following a similar route as Apple, the social network Facebook may be building out its own team in an effort to build its own processors. The news was first surfaced by Bloomberg, which cites Facebook job listings and information gathered from unnamed sources. Based on the information at hand, Facebook is currently building out a team that would focus on building its own processors, all in an effort to “lower their dependence” on Intel and Qualcomm moving forward.

“The social media company is seeking to hire a manager to build an “end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organization,” according to a job listing on its corporate website, indicating the effort is still in its early stages.

The Menlo Park, California-based company would join other technology giants tackling the massive effort to develop chips. In 2010, Apple Inc. started shipping its own chips and now uses them across many of its major product lines. Alphabet Inc.’s Google has developed its own artificial intelligence chip as well.”

These chips could be used primarily for behind-the-scenes servers in the company’s data centers, but there is also some speculation that Facebook is planning on implanting the new, custom chips into consumer products as well. The new chips may also be used to handle artificial intelligence software, an area that Facebook is certainly not a stranger to.

The report also calls out the upcoming Facebook smart speaker, which is reportedly known as Portal. While it does not suggest that Facebook is going to use a proprietary chip in this device, because the team is now just coming together, it does hint that Facebook could improve upon the existing lineup with these new processors at some point in the future:

“Facebook is also working on a slew of smart speakers. Future generations of those devices could be improved by custom chipsets. By using its own processors, the company would have finer control over product development and would be able to better tune its software and hardware together.”

Our Take

It doesn’t look like the hold on the market held by Intel and Qualcomm is going to be given up completely any time soon, but if more companies do follow in Apple’s footsteps, it may get pretty rocky.

[via Bloomberg]