Microsoft Is Designing its own ARM-based Chips for Surface

Microsoft is working on developing its own custom processor for its products, according to a report by Bloomberg News. Details are scarce, but the report notes that the new processor Microsoft is working on is “in-house” and will use ARM-based designs. Not only can it be used to power data centers, it can also be used for the Surface range of computers.

Although Microsoft has already worked with its partner Qualcomm on ARM-based processors for the Surface Pro X and other Windows 10 on ARM devices like the Galaxy Book S, this move could also be another major departure from Intel’s processors and partnership Qualcomm mean.

Microsoft is not alone in taking such a step. Apple recently demonstrated that it can be successful not to rely on Intel processors anymore, but on your own internal processor. In November, the iPhone maker announced the M1 CPU in a new line of MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini models. This ARM-based M1 CPU was praised for its higher performance and longer battery life.

Earlier Microsoft Surface products all had chips from Intel and AMD. The exception is the Surface Pro X with the Microsoft SQ1 and SQ2 chip, which was developed with the help of Qualcomm. The Surface Laptop 3, meanwhile, had a custom AMD Ryzen “Surface Edition” chip.

Intel’s Xeon chips provide power to most data centers. AMD also entered the server market with its EPYC series of processors.

Even if the ARM-based chip Microsoft is working on is powerful enough, Microsoft would have to do the job of its own in moving to its own custom ARM-based processor, mainly due to problems with the software.

Apple relies on Rosetta 2 emulation to run certain apps that have been developed for traditional MacBooks with Intel processors and have not yet been updated for the M1 chip. Microsoft recently optimized Windows 10 to support both 64-bit and 32-bit applications, and it’s still in beta testing. Reports have also shown that Windows 10 performs better on Apple’s M1 Macs that run under emulation than on devices like the Surface Pro X that run natively.

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