Meta, Ireland's Tyndall Institute Start $5.4M Semiconductor Project To Advance AR, Displays

Meta has teamed with Ireland's Tyndall Research Institute for a four-year $5.4 million project to research semiconductors that will help to advance augmented reality (AR) technology and improve displays.

The project will focus on key AR advancements such as miniature light display technologies. Tyndall's Professor Paul Hurley will lead the research program. Hurley, who has been appointed as Meta's industrial chair in Semiconductor Technologies, will also appoint a team of PhD students from Tyndall to work on the project, alongside Meta.

"The goal of this research engagement with Meta is to investigate heterogeneous systems and determine their impact on efficiency, further informing critical technology adoption in future products," Hurley said.

Pádraig Hughes, Head of Reality Labs at Meta in Cork, Ireland, welcomed the appointment of Hurley as Meta’s Chair to advance research in miniature light display technologies for Augmented Reality.

“It is a testament to the calibre of Irish academic research, and in particular the research that Paul is leading at the Tyndall National Institute,” according to the release.

Hughes was formerly the COO and head of engineering of InfiniLED, a display startup out of the Tyndall National Institute, acquired by Facebook in 2016. He’s now the Director for Hardware Display Development, leading teams in Cork and Redmond, and is the site lead for the office in Cork. 

Semiconductors have been an afterthought in the advertising industry. Some can include systems on the chip to improve a variety of functions like AR or display or search. Now companies are paying more attention. 

Google, for example, has developed its own data center server chips and has an experiment. The Google-led program to design and manufacture chips for free became popular last year. It’s referred to as an open silicon program that provides tools for anyone to design and manufacture chips. Google pays the entire bill, from a chip’s conception to delivery of the final product in a user’s hand, according to the report.

Google’s Open MPW program includes an open-source design toolkit from a company called EFabless, which also manages the program. A website states that “Google is partnering with GlobalFoundries, SkyWater Technology and Efabless to provide open-source Process Design Kits (PDKs) and toolchains so that any developer can create manufacturable silicon designs.

On Thursday, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which also produces chips, announced it would invest $100 million in a generative artificial intelligence (GAI) innovation center to give its customers help in building and deploying GAI. The company will use its own technology and semiconductor chips to support companies like Omnicom Group.


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