Well, the end of Moore’s law has forced YouTube to make its own video chip. General purpose processors weren’t cutting it for specialized tasks like video transcoding, and after a 10 minute meeting with YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki, the company’s first video chip project was approved.
The obvious motive for building your own chip for a specific purpose is cost savings, but that’s not always the case. In many instances, big tech companies are simply looking to create a strategic advantage with custom chips. Consolidation in the chip industry also plays into the equation, as there are now only a couple of custom chipmakers to choose from in a given category making general-purpose processors that aren’t great at specialized tasks.
Google said the Argos VCUs delivered a performance boost of anywhere between 20 to 33 times compared to traditional server hardware running well-tuned transcoding software.