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Facebook’s New Hire Shows It’s Serious About Building Chips

Facebook has hired Shahriar Rabii to be a vice president and its head of silicon, sending a message that it plans to build its own semiconductors.

According to Bloomberg, Rabii previously worked at Google, where he led the team in charge of building chips for devices such as the Pixel smartphone’s custom Visual Core chip.

Sources say that at Facebook, he’ll work under Andrew Bosworth, the company’s head of virtual reality and augmented reality.

Spokesmen for Facebook and Google declined to comment on Rabii’s career move.

Facebook started forming a team to design chips earlier this year, following in the footsteps of Apple, Google, and Amazon, who are all creating their own chips for a variety of purposes.

The social media giant is working on semiconductors, which can be used for tasks such as processing information for Facebook’s data centers and its artificial intelligence (AI) work. The company wants to use AI to identify the nature of content people post on social media in order to quickly take down hate speech, fake accounts and live videos of violence.

Google has been developing additional chips for its future devices, including the new Pixel phones with upgraded cameras and an edge-to-edge screen. And Apple has been shipping its own custom main processors in iPads and iPhones since 2010. By 2020, the company hopes to start shipping Macs with its own main processors.

The move by technology companies to supply themselves with semiconductors aims to lower their dependence on chipmakers such as Intel and Qualcomm. Earlier this year, it was revealed that security flaws in Intel chip could allow hackers to steal sensitive information from devices.

While Apple, Microsoft and other software makers have released patches to protect against the vulnerabilities, Intel may take a hit financially due to lawsuits brought on because of the slowdown the patches would cause, which could then force customers to replace their devices.

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