Microsoft is reportedly working on developing its own artificial intelligence (AI) chips that could rival Nvidia’s offerings. The move is aimed at reducing the company’s reliance on Nvidia and cutting down on the high costs associated with using its products. According to reports from The Information, Microsoft has been secretly developing these chips since 2019, and select employees from Microsoft and OpenAI have already been granted access to test them.
Microsoft’s focus on building its own AI chips is part of its broader push to bring more AI-powered features to its products such as Bing, Office apps, GitHub, and other services. While Nvidia is the current leader in the supply of AI server chips, estimates suggest that OpenAI will need over 30,000 of Nvidia’s A100 GPUs to commercialize ChatGPT. However, the demand for high-end chips is so high that Nvidia’s latest H100 GPUs are selling for over $40,000 on eBay.
As Nvidia races to produce more chips to meet demand, Microsoft is reportedly exploring the possibility of building its own AI chips in-house. The company has accelerated its work on the Athena project, which is aimed at creating its own AI chips. While it remains unclear whether Microsoft plans to make these chips available to its Azure cloud customers, reports indicate that the company is looking to make them more broadly available within Microsoft and OpenAI as early as next year.
Microsoft’s AI chips are not expected to be a direct replacement for Nvidia’s offerings, but the move could significantly reduce costs for Microsoft. Reports suggest that Microsoft has a roadmap in place for the development of multiple future generations of AI chips.
In addition to its efforts in AI, Microsoft has also been working on developing its own ARM-based chips for several years. While the company has not yet released any of these chips, Bloomberg reported in 2020 that Microsoft was exploring the possibility of designing its own ARM-based processors for servers and even its Surface devices. Microsoft has previously worked with companies like AMD and Qualcomm to create custom chips for its Surface Laptop and Surface Pro X devices.
Microsoft’s push to develop its own AI chips follows in the footsteps of other tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Meta, which have also developed their own in-house chips for AI. However, many companies still rely heavily on Nvidia’s products to power their latest large language models.
Microsoft’s reported development of its own AI chips marks a significant move in the tech industry as the company looks to reduce its dependence on Nvidia and cut costs. While it remains to be seen how effective Microsoft’s AI chips will be, their development is part of the company’s broader push to bring more AI-powered features to its products. As competition in the AI chip market heats up, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft’s efforts stack up against those of its competitors.