Microsoft has reportedly hired a key Apple semiconductor expert to help develop its own Azure chips as it looks to take its data centres to the next level. Bloomberg reports that Mike Filippo, a chip veteran who has also worked at Arm and Intel, will be working on building out Microsoft’s Azure server chips, an area of increasing focus for the company at it competes with AWS and Google Cloud.
While little has been confirmed about the rumored Azure chips, Microsoft will likely be looking at efficiencies that can be gained from more tightly controlling the chip-making process. Apple has seen huge gains in its A and M series of chips, found in iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Cutting edge advantage
Microsoft hiring Filippo could also be troubling news for longtime partners Intel and AMD, both of which have provided chips for Azure servers.
Before coming to Microsoft, Filippo joined Apple in 2019, having worked at Arm for a decade and Intel for five years.
AWS and Google Cloud have been investing in making their own custom chips in recent years, hiring scores of experts to help squeeze new efficiencies out of the extensive hardware needed to run data centres.
Microsoft is most likely trying to get a slice of the action and increase control over its Azure centres, while also reducing prices to more directly compete with its rivals.
According to estimates, AWS leads the cloud computing market with a 32% share, followed by Microsoft with 20% and Google with 9%. Alibaba, IBM, Salesforce, Tencent, and Oracle are the other players, although none have more than a 6% share.
Cloud services are the backbone of the modern internet, hosting all major online platforms (excluding Facebook, Google, and other giants). AWS in particular has paved the way for developers to more easily experiment without having to worry about complicated cloud setups.