Wednesday, March 8th 2017

Microsoft Distances Itself from Intel - Announces ARM Cloud Server Platform

Microsoft is looking to reduce costs in its Azure cloud computing platforms for tasks like search, storage, machine learning and big data. And after having developed a version of Windows for servers that use ARM processors, in a joint work with Qualcomm and Cavium, Microsoft seems to also be looking forward to leave its dependency on Intel products as nothing but a memory. Microsoft's ARM server design, dubbed Project Olympus, looks to hardware innovations so as to reduce costs, boosting competitiveness and flexibility in regards to other big players in the cloud space, like Amazon and Alphabet. That the design is open source is also a boon to other businesses and Microsoft partners.


Though the design isn't "deployed into production yet (...) that is the next logical step," said Jason Zander, vice president of Microsoft's Azure cloud division. "This is a significant commitment on behalf of Microsoft. We wouldn't even bring something (...) if we didn't think this was a committed project and something that's part of our roadmap."
Intel's domination of the high-performance x86 market is a known fact. The absence of a real competitor (enter AMD) in the x86 server space has led Intel (on its own words) towards an incredible 98% percent dominance of the cloud hardware business. Intel's Data Center Group turned incredible profits in 2016, with revenue of $17.2 billion - up 7% from $16.0 billion in 2015. However, Intel's growth stemmed only 3% from increased sales volume, while the majority of the 7$«% increase in revenue being attributed to a 4% higher average selling price in its cloud products. When you are the only significant player in any market, you are the one to set prices, and Intel has taken every advantage and profit of that that it could. One of the reasons for Microsoft's decision to drift from the blue giant.

In a statement regarding Microsoft's announcement, Intel naturally expressed confidence in the continued superiority of its Xeon server chips:

"We operate in a highly competitive market and take all competitors seriously," the company said. "We are confident that Xeon processors will continue to deliver the highest performance and lowest total cost of ownership for our cloud customers. However, we understand the desire of our customers to evaluate other product offerings."

Intel will never let itself be completely shuffled out of an entire market, however, and the company's name stands beside Qualcomm, Dell, HP, AMD, Samsung and NVIDIA, which are making chips, servers and components for use in the new Microsoft design.

It's interesting that Microsoft has announced this change to ARM server designs in its chips. If you'll recall, AMD once saw ARM as a logical step towards the high-performance server market, even going so far as releasing an Opteron processor on the ARM microarchitecture - the Opteron A1100. However, as is usually the case with idealistic AMD, the company put too much hope into a too immature market; Lisa Su herself announced a refocus on usage of the x86 architecture in the server market through its (at the time) upcoming Zen microarchitecture (with the company having recently made some announcements in that regard, with the 32-core, 64-threaded Naples.)Source: Bloomberg Technology
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8 Comments on Microsoft Distances Itself from Intel - Announces ARM Cloud Server Platform

#1
Brusfantomet
Raevenlord said:

Intel will never let itself be completely shuffled out of an entire market, however, and the company's name stands beside Qualcomm, Dell, HP, AMD, Samsung and NVIDIA, which are making chips, servers and components for use in the new Microsoft design.
Sure, we all saw how well the atom sold in mobile phones.

Besides Windows 10 already runs on ARM, albeit without the win32 api. Does this mean that Microsoft will try to make win32 work on ARM?
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#4
Camm
Brusfantomet said:
Sure, we all saw how well the atom sold in mobile phones.

Besides Windows 10 already runs on ARM, albeit without the win32 api. Does this mean that Microsoft will try to make win32 work on ARM?
They already have

Posted on Reply
#5
R0H1T
Fluffmeister said:
You're right, sadly it's now owned by Softbank (whoever the hell they are).
Japanese, arigato meister san :)
Posted on Reply
#6
XiGMAKiD
They also must run on ARM if they want to stay relevant in mobile market as well
Posted on Reply
#7
Vayra86
Well that is a bummer for AMD"s Naples then too.
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