TIME WAS SOFTWARE companies left inventing new hardware to others. Google’s search and ads empire was built on infrastructure assembled from commodity components, for example. But the growing competition among tech companies in artificial intelligence has convinced some software makers to change their spots.
Some Google servers now include chips customized for machine learning called TPUs that the company designed in-house to deliver better power and efficiency. Google has also started renting them out to its cloud-computing customers. Facebook recently said it is interested in designing similar chips for its own data centers. Both are competing with a pack of startups crafting their own AI server chips, which collectively received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding last year.