Microsoft yesterday launched a chip and electronic card for its cloud servers, developed in Israel, which aims to allow it to make adjustments to the Azure cloud system for customers on demand, while saving on the costs of buying chips from external suppliers, such as Nvidia and Intel.
The move echoes Amazon's purchase of the Graviton chip of Israeli company Annapurna Labs, which is currently used at the base of AWS's data centers and reduces the costs of its cloud service. However, unlike the retail giant, Microsoft has not yet launched a server core processor or GPU - this is an accelerator card that helps regulate various activities and contains a programmable chip (FPGA), and is more similar to the AWS Nitro card that aims to lighten loads and Microsoft's control over various applications, such as running virtual servers or certain storage operations.
Microsoft still needs Intel and AMD In addition to Microsoft and Amazon, Google is also developing its own chip operations, and even hired Uri Frank, a former executive at Intel, for this purpose. "Globes" has learned that the launch of the electronic card last night was also the biggest moment so far for Microsoft's chip development center in Israel, most of which is located in Haifa and has been working for four years on developing hardware technologies for the Azure cloud system. Although it has been responsible for a small number of products already integrated into Azure, this is the first major launch of a product from the development center. The acceleration card was launched last night as part of Microsoft announcements entitled "Azure Boost" - hardware developments launched alongside new managed services that allow it to more quickly adapt their service to enterprise customers, according to the needs of each customer and the price they are willing to pay, such as management for networks (networking), information storage and backup, cyber and hosting services (hosting). In this way, clients can also be upgraded more quickly without waiting for hardware improvements.
In the long term, the new development may make it unnecessary to adopt the acceleration cards Nvidia's data centers (under the DPU brand) and Intel (under the IPU brand), but this does not mean that Microsoft is giving up the services of the two chip giants. Microsoft still needs the Intel and AMD core processors embedded in its cards and servers and the Nvidia graphics processors that accelerate operations in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In recent months, Microsoft has been hiring engineers in the US specializing in ARM, the core technology that competes with Intel, and is even collaborating with Ampere, based on similar technology, probably to replace the Intel and AMD chips in the more distant future.
High proportion of R&D engineers from Arab sector
According to LinkiedIn, Microsoft has 20 hardware engineers in Israel hired from companies like Intel, Mellanox (Nvidia), Qualcomm, nTrig and IBM. In its Haifa activities, Microsoft employs some university graduates with no previous experience. Microsoft's hardware operations in Israel also employ a small number of engineers at its branch on Shaul Hamelech Street in Tel Aviv. Microsoft's hardware operations are managed from the company's headquarters in Redmond, near Seattle.
"Globes" has also learned that Microsoft employs a higher proportion of engineers from the Arab sector in its Israeli hardware operations, compared with other companies. Ari Cohen, the head of the Microsoft Azure hardware group (Azure Core Compute) said, "At Microsoft Israel R&D there are men and women working from all populations in the country who work in collaboration with global teams to create the new software and hardware that Microsoft's cloud will run on. At this time, it is amazing to see how cooperation can affect hundreds of millions of users around the world."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 19, 2023.
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