Amazon is reportedly working on custom silicon chips for its hardware network switches, according to The informationThe chips, which could help Amazon improve its internal infrastructure and AWS, would be the result of Amazon’s $ 350 million acquisition from Israeli chip maker Annapurna Labs in 2015.
Amazon building the silicon for its switches can help it solve bottlenecks and problems in its own infrastructure, especially if it also customizes the software that runs on them. Amazon already builds its own switches, but it relies on Broadcom for the silicon that powers them. It makes sense for the company to want to fully control those machines, especially given the importance of the web services business. Amazon may even offer some services it couldn’t provide before, made possible by the new switches, The information suggests, citing the machine learning software Amazon offers that currently runs on Annapurna chips.
The reported chips are not Amazon’s first custom silicon product. The company previously worked with MediaTek to create a chip for its Echo smart speaker products, designed to make Alexa more responsive. It also has its it calls modified machine learning chips Trainium, which will soon be available to AWS customers. It makes sense that the company would also want its own chips to power the backbone of its network.
Custom chip design is also quickly becoming a table on the line for major technology companies. We’ve recently seen reports of Google and Microsoft building custom processors for their devices, and Apple has been doing this for years, with the M1 Macs being an example of how much more powerful a company’s products can be when it comes to both Hardware and software. While Amazon may not be a titan in the smartphone or PC space, it’s a giant in the cloud, which is where it seems to focus on putting new chips to work.