Microsoft is starting to produce custom CPUs

Emre Çitak
Nov 16, 2023

Microsoft is finally making custom chips. The company announced today that it is developing two new chips: an AI accelerator called Azure Maia 100 and an Arm-based CPU called Azure Cobalt 100.

Microsoft has been working on custom chips for several years, but the company has not made any public announcements until now. The development of these chips is a major step forward for Microsoft and will give the company more control over the hardware that powers its cloud computing services and AI applications, the main focus of the Microsoft ignite 2023 event.

Both chips are designed to power Microsoft's Azure cloud computing services and the company's AI adventures. They are expected to be available in 2024.

Microsoft unveils Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100
Microsoft Azure Cobalt 100 CPU makes history as the first Microsoft branded custom chip - Image courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft unveils Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100

The Azure Maia 100 AI accelerator is designed to train and infer large language models, which are a type of AI that can generate human-quality text, translate languages, and answer questions in an informative way.

The Azure Cobalt 100 CPU is designed for a range of cloud workloads, including machine learning, natural language processing, and high-performance computing.

The development of Microsoft-branded custom chips is a major step forward for the AI industry as a whole. AI is becoming increasingly important in a variety of industries, and there is a growing demand for hardware that can accelerate AI workloads.

Microsoft's new Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100 chips are expected to be some of the most powerful AI accelerators available, and they could help accelerate the development of new AI applications.

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The development of custom chips is a significant investment for Microsoft, but it is an investment that the company believes is necessary to stay competitive in the cloud computing and artificial intelligence market.

Microsoft is facing increasing competition from Amazon and Google, and the company needs to be able to offer its customers the most powerful and efficient cloud computing services possible.

Microsoft unveils Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100
Azure Maia 100's main focus is to accelerate AI and ML-powered applications -Image courtesy of Microsoft

What does all this mean to the everyday user?

In fact, these CPUs will be expensive CPUs built for specialized purposes. Almost every big tech company is currently trying to develop hardware components that will be the power behind AI and LLM technologies.

Just like NVIDIA's H200 GPU, the target market for Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100 will not be everyday users, but companies and individuals developing AI applications.

Also, with two powerhouses in the CPU industry, Intel and AMD, it's hard to imagine a third CPU maker emerging. Intel, which aims to be next to AMD and NVIDIA in the GPU market, tried to make this move with the release of their Arc GPU line, but according to JPR's Q2 2023 report, the total market share was as follows:

  • NVIDIA - 80%
  • AMD - 17%
  • Intel - 2%

The point is that Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100 will be a CPU for AI and LLM developers, not for the everyday user as Microsoft's custom chips are expected to be a major competitive advantage for the company. The chips will give Microsoft more control over the hardware that powers its cloud computing services, and they will enable the company to offer more powerful and efficient services to its customers.

Featured image: Microsoft.


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  1. check it out said on November 17, 2023 at 3:49 am

    Just another way to shut Linux out.

  2. John C. said on November 16, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    How is this not a conflict of interest and-or the act of a monopoly? The feds need to step in and stop this. It would be a cold day in hell before I’d ever purchase a computer with such a chip in it.

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