Meta hired a senior silicon engineer from Intel to boost development of custom solutions server chips for its data centers.
Jon Dama joined Meta earlier this month as Director for Silicon for the Infrastructure Hardware Group, in which role he will lead multiple design teams focused on “innovating the data center for scale”.
Meta hasn’t specified exactly what Dama will be working on, but his role in developing Intel’s Infrastructure Processing Units (IPUs) – freeing up CPU power by offloading certain functions – offers a hint. Tech Radar Pro has asked the company for comment.
Bad news for Intel and AMD?
Although Meta’s ambitions to develop custom silicon for its upcoming AR glasses are already public knowledge, the hiring is among the first signs that the company intends to develop chips to power its data centers as well.
Given that Meta recently signed a long-term deal with AMD, it’s unlikely the intention is to replace the third-party data center processors not, but to develop specialized silicon to enable specific use cases.
The move can be viewed as a continuation of an emerging trend that has occurred multiple times Cloud Vendors have been developing their own ARM-based silicon for the past several years. In 2018, AWS introduced its Graviton line (now in its third generation), which has proven to be an immense success, and so has Alibaba Cloud are working on a powerful new line of custom chips. last activity suggests Microsoft has similar plans to support its own cloud computing business.
The main incentive for large data center operators to develop their own custom silicon is the ability to better customize the hardware to meet the needs of their specific workloads.
In conversation with Tech Radar Pro Earlier this year, AWS HPC specialist Brendan Bouffler explained that the Graviton series gave the company far more freedom to streamline its operations, which Intel and AMD just can’t offer.
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“In general, removing unnecessary features means you have much more control over the defect profile, and having control over the silicon has given us a similar advantage,” he said.
“Graviton3 is finely tuned for our data centers because we are the sole customer for these things. We know our terms while other manufacturers have to support the weirdest and most unusual data center configurations.”
For its part, Intel claims it will remain unaffected by the emergence of high-performance custom silicon for the data center. In fact, the company sees an opportunity for Intel Foundry Services, its new foundry-only division.
Sandra Rivera, Head of Datacenter and AI, said the following at Intel Vision in Dallas last week:
“Hyperscalers are one of our big revenue drivers, and they rely on us to provide sustainable, durable capacity for their data centers. They still rely on Xeon for their large-scale deployments.”
“But they also want lasting innovations. We can deliver some of that with Xeon, and there’s also an opportunity with our foundry business to give hyperscalers the ability to innovate on unique IP.”
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