In late 2021, a team of Meta Platforms employees building a key chip for the second version of Meta’s Ray-Ban smart glasses was notified that the company had decided to go with an alternative chip from Qualcomm, according to two people familiar with the matter. The custom chip would power a variety of functions, such as taking high-quality photos and videos, on the glasses. But Meta’s augmented reality chief, Alex Himel, decided using it could delay the glasses’ launch, expected next year.
The decision was a setback for Meta’s in-house silicon unit known as Facebook Agile Silicon Team. Code-named Brasilia, the chip was part of a broader effort by Meta to control key technologies and reduce its reliance on off-the-shelf silicon providers like Qualcomm, which supplies chips for Meta’s Quest VR headsets, Portal smart video devices and the first version of the Ray-Ban glasses. By building its own power-efficient chips to manage its burgeoning stable of augmented and virtual reality devices, Meta would have far greater control over the features, size and battery life of its products and be better positioned to compete with rivals like Apple.