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Facebook hires Google silicon bigwig, but why?

Facebook's new hire helped lead the team behind the Pixel Visual Core chip, according to his LinkedIn account...

Published onJuly 16, 2018

The Google Pixel 2.
  • Facebook has hired a key Google engineer for its fledgling silicon design efforts.
  • The new employee founded Google’s consumer silicon team, according to his LinkedIn account.
  • The new hire will reportedly be working under Facebook’s head of virtual and augmented reality.

Facebook has hired a high-ranking silicon engineer from Google, as the social network ramps up its quest to build its own chips. According to Bloomberg, Facebook hired Shahriar Rabii as vice-president and its head of silicon.

Rabii’s LinkedIn account shows that he founded Google’s consumer silicon team (dubbed gChips) and helped lead the team behind the Pixel Visual Core used in the Pixel 2 smartphones. The account also reflects his change of company and new titles.

Rabii will be working under Facebook’s head of virtual and augmented reality, the publication’s sources said. This suggests the former Google engineer will be working on silicon for VR/AR headsets, rather than smartphone chips.

Facebook’s growing silicon team

Facebook has stepped up its VR/AR efforts in the past few years, starting with its Oculus purchase in 2014. More recently, the company has used AR technology on Instagram, Messenger, the Camera Effects platform, and even in advertising.

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This isn’t the first time Facebook’s silicon ambitions have surfaced, either. Earlier this year, job listings emerged from the social network, revealing it was building a chip-making team. This fledgling team is purportedly developing AI chips.

Facebook is working on a few consumer products that could potentially use AI chips too, such as a smart display. These devices were apparently set for a reveal at the network’s F8 conference in May, but we’re now expecting an October unveiling. It’s believed that the company delayed the reveal in the wake of the Cambridge Audio Analytica scandal.

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