Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has hired a team of engineers formerly employed by British chip unicorn, Graphcore. The Oslo-based team had been working on artificial intelligence (AI) networking technology at Graphcore until December 2022 or January 2023 before joining Meta in February or March of this year.
Improved Data Center Capabilities
The team’s expertise in designing and developing supercomputing systems to support AI and machine learning at scale will help Meta enhance its data centers’ capabilities. Meta is increasingly reliant on AI technology to target advertising, select posts for its apps’ feeds, and remove prohibited content from its platforms.
Generative AI Products
Meta is rushing to release generative AI products capable of creating human-like writing, art, and other content, competing with Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google. The 10 employees’ job descriptions on LinkedIn indicated that the team had worked on AI-specific networking technology at Graphcore, which develops computer chips and systems optimized for AI work.
Meta’s In-House Unit
Meta already has an in-house unit designing various kinds of chips aimed at speeding up and maximizing efficiency for AI work, including a network chip that performs an air traffic control function for servers. Efficient networking is especially useful for modern AI systems that are too large to fit onto a single computing chip and must instead be split up over many chips strung together. Meta is also designing a complex computing chip to both train AI models and perform inference, a process in which the trained models make judgments and generate responses to prompts, although it does not expect that chip to be ready until around 2025.
Graphcore, once viewed by investors like Microsoft and venture capital firm Sequoia as a potential challenger to Nvidia’s lead in the market for AI chip systems, has faced setbacks. Microsoft scrapped an early deal to buy Graphcore’s chips for its Azure cloud computing platform in 2020 and instead used Nvidia’s GPUs. Despite this, Graphcore remains “perfectly positioned” to take advantage of accelerating commercial adoption of AI.
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