Meta is developing its own AI chip – here’s hoping it goes better than the Metaverse

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Meta has announced the development of a new chip, specifically designed to run AI models. The company is known for its family of apps including Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram – and, of course, its attempts to get the Metaverse off the ground – but has recently started investing a lot into AI.

Meta’s VP and Head of Infrastructure, Santosh Janardhan shared details of the progress made in a recent blog post. The company has expressed a significant growth in interest in AI, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying the company “sees an opportunity to introduce AI agents to billions of people that will be useful and meaningful”.

The chip and other infrastructure plans revealed in the post will be crucial tools for Meta to compete with other tech giants such as Google and Microsoft, who have already invested heavily in AI in the form of Google Bard and Bing’s ChatGPT interface.

Meta’s new MTIA chip (Meta Training and Inference Accelerator) is an “in-house, custom accelerator chup family targeting inference workloads”. The chip will provide greater computing power and efficiency that is customized to Meta’s workloads. So, MTIA chips paired with GPUs will allow Meta to “deliver better performance, decreased latency and greater efficiency for each workload”.

Why does this matter? Well, the MTIA chips could be a huge boost for Meta given the increasingly high demand for AI computation power. As it is made ‘in-house’ it will be designed to perfectly match Meta’s workload and demands and will free the company from from relying on other companies. The MTIA chip is still a long way away according to TechCrunch, reporting that we won’t see the chip until at least 2025.

Too Little Too Late?

We’ve already seen what kind of grind a company has to go through when even a little late to the AI game (looking at you, Google), so not seeing the chip for at least another two years does give me doubts about Meta’s place in an increasingly AI-populated digital landscape.

That being said, there is no doubt we will see AI sneak into Meta at some point in one way or another. Considering the kind of products Meta has under its belt, such as Whatsapp and Instagram, it will be interesting to see how it might implement AI into these social media apps. It could take a page from Snapchat’s book and simply introduce AI-powered chatbot users can vent to, or perhaps remodel the apps completely and bring users a completely new experience.

I am relieved to see the company go in any direction that isn’t the Metaverse, so while I am a little impatient to see what it might do with artificial intelligence, I’m glad it’s working on something people actually want to use.  The company’s faith in designing its own products is commendable, and could really help it to stand out against many other AI initiatives.