Microsoft Designing Its Own Chips for Servers, Surface PCs

In a move from Apple designing their own chips, Microsoft wants to design their own chips to compete with the Apple M1 chip.

Microsoft Corp. is working on in-house processor designs for use in server computers that run the company’s cloud services, adding to an industrywide effort to reduce reliance on Intel Corp.’s chip technology.

The world’s largest software maker is using Arm Ltd. designs to produce a processor that will be used in its data centers, according to people familiar with the plans. It’s also exploring using another chip that would power some of its Surface line of personal computers. The people asked not to be identified discussing private initiatives. Intel’s stock dropped 6.3% to close at $47.46 in New York, leaving it down 21% this year.

The move is a major commitment by Microsoft to supplying itself with the most important piece of the hardware it uses. Cloud-computing rivals such as Amazon.com Inc. are already well down the road with similar efforts. They’ve argued their chips are better suited to some of their needs, bringing cost and performance advantages over off-the-shelf silicon primarily provided by Intel.

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Microsoft’s efforts are more likely to result in a server chip than one for its Surface devices, though the latter is possible, said one of the people. The company’s chip design unit reports to Jason Zander, head of the Azure cloud business, rather than Panos Panay, who oversees Surface products. Representatives of Microsoft and Arm declined to comment on whether Microsoft is working on server and PC processors.

Intel emulation via software or virtual machines would be able to run the old legacy code.

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