Google’s Head of Chip Development, Shahriar Rabii, has seemingly moved to Facebook. This was first reported on by Bloomberg although Rabii’s own LinkedIn page has been updated to reflect the change of employer. As a result, Rabii will be taking up the role of Vice President and Head of Silicon at Facebook, following the almost four year stint as Google’s Senior Director of Engineering, which itself followed on almost three more years as a Director of Engineering at Google.
This is a notable move as Rabii is largely understood to have been an integral part of Google’s custom chip ambitions. For example, and among other areas and solutions, Rabii reportedly was leading the team behind Google’s Pixel Visual Core chip solution found in the company’s latest smartphones, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. The Pixel Visual Core is more than just a new chip as it's also Google’s first custom-designed for mobile co-processor, and believed to be the first of many chips that will likely come from Google in the future - as the company not only looks to further expand its hardware portfolio, but doing so while lessening the need for chip-based solutions provided by third-party manufacturers.
This last point is likely why Facebook has decided to hire Rabii in the first place. As like Google, and many other tech companies today, Facebook is also understood to be trying to increase its presence in the hardware market and with a more internal approach where it will supply as many of its own in-house silicon solutions as possible. This latest hire would seem to support that notion and may even suggest Facebook is now ramping up its consumer hardware ambitions. While the company already does dabble in the virtual reality (VR) hardware space, reports have come through thick and fast over the last year that Facebook is planning to increase its consumer hardware selection by moving to the smart speaker arena. With Rabii having now seemingly left Google, it remains to be seen who will be filling the position while Google also looks to ramp up its chip development. As while the Pixel Visual core is technically only a co-processor, there has been suggestions, Google has much grander ambitions to develop and incorporate its own custom primary processors in its hardware solutions in the future. Neither Facebook nor Google have yet to officially confirm Rabii's move.