Facebook is apparently making moves to begin the development of its own semiconductors, yet another indication that its hardware ambitions are growing. The revelation comes as a result of a job listing posted by Facebook that calls for an Electrical Engineer who could “Support all phases of SoC development - including early architecture requirements” and calls for an employee who would design chips, manage electrical and mechanical engineering of boards, and help with chip algorithm development. Since the job posting is listed under the Oculus umbrella of the company, it’s likely that it is looking for teams to design components for its VR devices, or at the very least create solutions meant to power AI technologies. It is also possible but less likely that Facebook is looking for someone to be able to implement chipsets on a large scale across its in-house data centers.
A semiconductor bet would help Facebook move away from its dependence on third-party chipmakers like Intel and Qualcomm. Though applications of Facebook’s own chips could span a number of in-house uses such as the component-level design of data centers, the firm may simply be looking at proprietary silicon in order to support its reportedly growing consumer electronics ambitions.
The job posting could hence very well be related to the company's rumored efforts to create a smart speaker. The gadget in question is said to be called the Portal and while it isn't likely to feature Facebook's own hardware given how its mass production is understood to be only months away, one of its successors might. The potential specs of the smart speaker include a 15-inch screen and facial recognition capabilities, as per previous reports. Facebook could be designing AI-enabled VR devices as well, putting people to work on refining some hardware and algorithms for the release of its upcoming smart speaker, or making other plans that are yet to be publicly disclosed.