12 January 2021
Microsft has reportedly started working on custom ARM chips that will be used for its Azure cloud servers. It is also working on another chipset that will be meant for Surface laptops. The report claims that the Redmond-based tech giant is looking to move away from Intel's CPUs and reduce its dependency on the company for future needs.
This is a huge development as Apple has already announced its plans to shift focus from Intel processors to its own M1 chip. Intel has been an exclusive chip supplier for Microsoft's cloud needs so far. It has also supplied chips for laptops and notebooks but as per fresh developments, all of this is expected to take a major change in the near future.
Even though Microsoft is said to be eying the processor change for both servers and laptops, the cloud computing machines are at the top of the priority list. Intel's Xeon lineup dominates the whole cloud computing market with over 90% market share. AMD has started to gain share in recent times but it is the deal with Microsoft that could strengthen its position in the market significantly.
It should be noted that there is no guarantee that Microsoft will definitely end up using custom processors and even if it does, they will be as powerful as Intel's offerings. The main objective of exploring the possibility of using first-party chips is to ensure that they are not left stranded if anything goes wrong with Intel's deal.
The official response from Microsoft on these rumors is:
“Because silicon is a foundational building block for technology, we’re continuing to invest in our own capabilities in areas like design, manufacturing and tools, while also fostering and strengthening partnerships with a wide range of chip providers."