New Azure servers to pack Intel FPGAs as Microsoft ARM-lessly embraces Xeon

'Intel Xeon Scalable Processor' hailed as 'cornerstone for new platform' with servers customised for different roles

By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor

Posted in Servers, 12th July 2017 05:56 GMT

Microsoft may have said ARM servers provide the most value for its cloud services back in March, but today it's given Intel's new Xeons a big ARM-less hug by revealing the hyperscale servers it uses in Azure are ready to roll with Chipzilla's latest silicon and will all use Chipzilla's field programmable gate arrays.

Those servers are dubbed “Project Olympus” and Microsoft has released their designs to the OpenCompute Project. In a post doubtless timed to co-incide with the release of the new Xeons, Microsoft reveals “worked closely with Intel to engineer Arria-10 FPGAs, which are deployed on every single Project Olympus server, to create a 'Configurable Cloud' that can be flexibly provisioned and optimized to support a diverse set of applications and functions.”

Redmond also praises the Xeon Scalable Processors as being jolly powerful and all that, which will help Azure to scale and handle different workloads. But it's the news that Redmond's all-in with Intel Arria FPGAs that must be warming cockles down Chipzilla way, as using Xeons as the main engine and tweaking them for different roles with FPGAs is Intel's strategy brought to life.

IBM's also embraced the new Xeons, gushing that it will be the first to offer them on bare metal cloud servers. But not, in all likelihood, the first to use them at all: Google has claims to have been running them since June 1st, 2017.

The deal that gave Google early access to Skylake Xeons was thought to be one reason Microsoft let its excitement about ARM servers emerge into public view.

But The Register does not believe that ardour and today's kind words for Xeon are mutually exclusive: Redmond is surely contemplating future Azure architectures, so while Wintel looks strong today, there's still plenty of time in which the alliance could splinter. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily

10 Comments

More from The Register

Nested virtualization comes to Google's cloud

Not just for Inception fans: This is how you cloudify tricky-to-migrate workloads

Microsoft adds nested virtualization to Azure

Inception fans can have fun with VMs-inside-VMs inside a cloud, all on Windows Server 2016

Cisco sells data virtualization unit to Tibco

Bought in 2013, disposed of in 2017 due to misalignment with 'long-term focus'

Developer plots server virtualization comeback for XenServer

Plans open source revival of XCP, to go places Citrix won’t

KVM plans big boosts to storage and nested virtualization

Project maintainer Paolo Bonzini details open source hypervisor's future directions

FYI: Processor bugs are everywhere – just ask Intel and AMD

More chip flaws await

Intel's still-in-beta drone flight planning software gets update

Chipzilla is doing a little aviating of its own, we see

Intel gives Broadwells and Haswells their Meltdown medicine

Chipzilla and Oracle are working their way back through time to deliver fixes

Micron, Intel consciously uncouple 3D NAND development

Will continue to work on 3D XPoint together

Intel to Tsinghua: I know Micron didn't work out – please buy our 3D NAND

The China Syndrome