Why it’s important to: It looks like Microsoft is on the sidelines to kick Intel to the pavement. The company is reportedly developing internal Arm silicon for their servers and possibly Surface devices. This would allow Microsoft to have more flexibility for offering Azure clouds, though it would not see its traditional chip partners.
Microsoft is no stranger to the development of custom chips. The company partnered with Qualcomm to create the standard Snapdragon SQ1 for the Surface Pro X and subsequently update it with the SQ2. The Surface Laptop 3 has a standard Ryzen 3 processor. However, this is the first time that Microsoft would completely develop Arm chips without any partners. This would certainly be a blow to Intel that is currently powering the servers in Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.
Following Apple’s steps, Microsoft may be designing its own Army-based chips for servers and possibly Surface devices, according to Bloomberg News. The first use case would be in Microsoft’s Azure data centers but the company is also exploring the development of a separate chip for users. That said, there is no strong evidence that Microsoft will definitely go down that road.
Amazon started moving to its standard Army chips back in 2018 with “Graviton” processors. It was then followed by a 2nd generation Army chip that was 20 percent faster than before. Microsoft’s move to standard Army silicon for servers could trigger a unique shift in how large tech companies manage their data centers.
While Microsoft’s standard server silicon may not be as powerful as Intel Xeon or AMD Epyc, this will allow Microsoft to take control of the fate for themselves, similar to Apple’s intentions.
According to Bloomberg, the chip design team will be led by Jason Zander, who currently heads Azure. Although no official acknowledgment was given, Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw issued a statement saying:
“As silicon is the foundation for technology, we continue to invest in our own capabilities in areas such as design, manufacturing and machinery, while also nurturing and strengthening partnerships with a wide range of technology. chip providers. “
Like Amazon and Apple, Microsoft seems to be seeing better long-term benefits for building its own server silicon. Custom chips can be built to perform specific tasks and provide better net performance than Intel or AMD.
Moreover, Microsoft would not be measured by waiting for its partners to innovate. Check out our feature here for more reasons why Apple’s M1 chips are important. That article goes well with Microsoft ‘s reasoning behind the move to Army – based silicon.