While Microsoft Research has explored various processor architectures for years, none of that tech has borne out for Windows PCs or Azure. That may change, however, according to a breaking report by Bloomberg.
In a terse article spanning only 91 words long, Bloomberg noted that “Microsoft Corp. is working on in-house processor designs for use in server computers that run the company’s cloud services … using Arm Ltd. designs to produce a processor that will be used in its data centers.”
Interestingly, the article also mentions that Microsoft is “exploring” using another chip in “some of its Surface line of personal computers,” which is also presumably Arm Ltd. Based, but it is not clear.
Like Intel, AMD, and other companies, Microsoft was likely blindsided by Apple’s impressive M1 processor, gaining a lot of traction amongst tech enthusiasts and the media. Apple’s ARM-based chip at 5nm is significantly more potent than Qualcomm, Intel, and AMD’s latest offering, often rivaling desktop-class processors at a much lower cost.
Apple appears to be years ahead of anyone else in mobile CPUs, and how that affects Windows PCs and servers could be dire if not adequately addressed.
Of course, like every other company, Microsoft is likely exploring contingencies should Intel (and AMD and Qualcomm) not be able to compete.
None of this is too surprising. Surface (and now Windows) head Panos Panay recently told Bloomberg “Where we think we need to invest in silicon, we are absolutely going to. If there’s a need, we’re going to fill it.”
Additionally, Microsoft not long ago announced Microsoft Pluton security processor and has collaborated with Qualcomm and AMD for customized silicon for Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop, respectively.
Exactly how and when such a Microsoft processor may come to fruition remains to be seen, but it is clear Redmond has no plans to sit idly by if Intel and the rest can’t offer a solution to Apple’s M1.
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