Microsoft is designing its own ARM-based processors for servers and possibly the Surface device in the future, according to Bloomberg News. The processors will be used in servers for Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and will be based around ARM design, according to the report. Microsoft is also reportedly “investigating” using another chip for some of its Surface devices, but it’s unclear if this will lead to a final product.
Microsoft currently uses Intel-based processors for most of their Azure cloud services, and most of the company’s Surface lineup runs on Intel chips, as well. Microsoft has worked with AMD and Qualcomm for custom chips for their Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X devices, showing a willingness to move away from just Intel.
Microsoft co-authored an ARM-based SQ1 processor for the Surface Pro X last year and that followed with the SQ2 version a month or two ago. AMD also worked with Microsoft to create a standard version of its Ryzen processor for the Surface Laptop 3.
Switching to ARM on the server side is definitely more important, especially for Intel. Apple has already shifted away from Intel chips for its Mac products, with its own silicon M1 based on the ARM design. Intel server chips currently dominate the server market, and AMD has already slammed away at this lucrative market with their own EPYC processors.
Amazon, Microsoft’s main cloud competitor, also sees it as a major threat to Intel and AMD, with their own ARM-based Graviton2 processors launched a year ago on AWS. However, ARM-based servers are a small part of the market right now, despite the performance and cost benefits they can deliver.
We reached out to Microsoft to comment on the rumors, and the company did not reject them. “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, ”said Microsoft’s head of communications, Frank Shaw.
Updated, Dec 18th 17:05 PM ET: Article updated with Microsoft comment.