Back in 2014, Microsoft first announced that they are exploring the possibility of using FPGAs in data centers to accelerate certain tasks for Bing. Later in 2016, Microsoft announced that they have expanded usage of FPGAs in Azure and Office 365. Each group uses FPGAs according to their needs. Azure for example uses FPGAs for faster networking while Office 365 uses it for machine intelligence activities.
Microsoft currently has the world’s largest deployment of custom developed field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), spanning 15 countries and five continents. These FPGAs could be used to accelerate AI to near real time, making Azure the foundation for the world’s first AI supercomputer. At Build developer conference earlier this year, Microsoft announced the preview of Project Brainwave bringing the power of FPGAs to the Azure cloud customers.
Until now, FPGAs used by Microsoft were provided by a company called Altera, which was later acquired by Intel in 2015. According to a latest report by Bloomberg, Xilinx has now won orders to supply FPGAs for Microsoft’s data centres. Microsoft will use Xilinx chips instead of Intel’s in more than half of its servers.
When asked for a comment on this story, Microsoft replied that there has been no change of sourcing for existing infrastructure and offerings.