Apple has been making its own iPhone and iPad chips for years, but the company recently started shipping laptops that use Apple Silicon rather than Intel processors.

And it sounds like Microsoft is considering doing the same thing.

Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is designing its own ARM-based chips for servers, and “exploring using another chip that would power some” of the company’s consumer-oriented Surface computers.

Microsoft Surface Pro X

The move wouldn’t exactly be coming out of left field. Microsoft already has a version of Windows 10 designed to run on computers with ARM processors, and the company already sells Surface Pro X tablets with Microsoft SQ1 and SQ2 processors… but those chips are basically tweaked versions of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx gen 1 and gen 2 chips.

Designing its own processors would give Microsoft the ability to optimize hardware and software to work together to offer better performance, much the way Apple has been able to do with its iPhone, iPad, and now Mac processors.

Rumor has it that Google, (which already designs its own chips for servers) may also be planning to develop custom chips for its own smartphones and Chromebooks.

Neither Microsoft nor Google have officially confirmed those plans though.

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2 replies on “Report: Microsoft designing custom ARM chips for servers (and maybe Surface devices)”

  1. what Surface with Windows RT (32 bit arm) was their first try with surface with an Arm CPU.

    And now they area try again?? really??

  2. I wonder what Microsoft’s legal plan is to avoid anti-trust issues, and to avoid lawsuits from PC manufacturers. If they show any kind of performance advantage over other ARM chips, or hypothetically over x86, they’re going to have some legal issues.

    If Microsoft keeps their Windows-optimized Silicon to themselves, they’re going to sour their relationships with PC manufacturers who don’t have the ability to make ARM chips with the same depth of Windows optimizations. Sounds illegal on some level.

    If Microsoft shares this silicon with PC manufacturers, then it puts them in a situation where PC makers need to buy the hardware and software both from Microsoft, and both would be needed to make PCs that remain competitive. Also sounds illegal in some way.

    If you recall their 2001 Antitrust accusations, the courts were trying to prove that Internet Explorer received performance optimizations from Windows APIs. I think Microsoft making silicon that has any kind of Windows 10 on ARM optimizations, they’re going to be asked to split their company in two.

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