Facebook, in an effort to further its ongoing development of AI-based chips, has hired one of Google’s lead chip developers – Shahriar Rabii. Previously Senior Director of Engineering at Google, Rabii has taken up the role of Vice President and Head of Silicon at Facebook, following the almost seven-year stint at Google. Earlier this year, Facebook was said to be building a team to design its own semiconductors, adding to a trend among technology companies to supply themselves and lower their dependence on chipmakers such as Intel and Qualcomm. The Menlo Park, California-based company is planning to join other technology giants tackling the massive effort to develop chips. In 2010, Apple started shipping its own chips and now uses them across many of its major product lines. Alphabet’s Google is also said to be developing its own artificial intelligence chip as well.
As first reported by Bloomberg, Shahriar Rabii has been hired by Facebook to be the Vice President and Head of Silicon. At Facebook, Rabii is said to work under Andrew Bosworth, the company’s AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) chief, the report adds. Facebook and Google declined to comment on the reported shift, Bloomberg added. According to his LinkedIn profile, which shows his new position at Facebook, Rabii had joined Google in December, 2011 as Director of Engineering, where he “launched multiple silicon development programs.” His profile bio says that Rabii founded a Consumer Silicon team known as ‘gChips’ within Google and later the hardware group’s Technology Engineering team. Later in 2014, Rabii was promoted as Senior Director of Engineering where he “headed and scaled silicon engineering, product/ program management, production and Technology Engineering.”
Rabii’s Technology Engineering team was formed to execute on core technologies and innovate on hardware products including phones, laptops, Google Home, Nest, AR/ VR, accessories and the core technologies included imaging, displays, wireless systems, sensors, audio, power systems, batteries. He released several products to mass production including Pixel Visual Core for ML and computational photography, Titan family of secure elements, VP9 and AV1 video transcoders and others.
As part of its ongoing efforts to increase its presence in the hardware market, Facebook could use AI-based chips to power hardware devices such as smart speakers (long-rumoured) and virtual reality headsets (such as its Oculus Go and Oculus Rift headsets), apart from artificial intelligence software and servers in its data centres. Future generations of its products could be improved by custom chipsets and by using its own processors, Facebook would have finer control over product development and would be able to better tune its software and hardware together.