back to article Microsoft: Can't wait for ARM to power MOST of our cloud data centers! Take that, Intel! Ha! Ha!

Microsoft today signaled more than half of its cloud data center capacity is set to be powered by 64-bit ARM servers. In a briefing to techies at this year's OCP Summit in Silicon Valley, top Azure engineer Leendert van Doorn flashed up the above slide: it lays out Redmond's desire, over the next few years, to see the majority …

  1. Youngone Silver badge


    peripherals and other hardware should be automatically discoverable and programmable by the operating system rather than requiring drivers for specific chipsets.

    That sounds a bit odd to me. Surely hardware needs a driver even if it's compiled into the kernal.

    Happy to be wrong though.

    1. mr. deadlift

      Re: Question

      my guess is the hardware abstraction layer may not be needed?

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Question

      "Surely hardware needs a driver"

      In this case, a generic ACPI driver that accesses the hardware in a uniform and standard way - via ACPI and the ARM server and boot standard (Register passim) - rather than specific Qualcomm and Cavium chipset driver code.


  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Nate Amsden

    if arm was good for servers

    We'd see it deployed on other clouds using linux. There was an article here recently that said even google was something likenover 99% intel. Linux has arm for probably 15 or more years now. Multiple arm server startups over the years too pushing dense stuff.

    Maybe this new cpu will be different.

    The articles here say MS likes high throughput but I see no mention of what actual throughput they are getting relative to intel. Sure is has more cores but it doesn't mean core for core or clock for clock they are any faster. And i have not seen any mention on power usage. Arm on mobile is very power conservative. However historically arm in servers has been much more power hungry.

    It seemed like a race could intel get power usage down enough before arm could get performance up enough?

    Speakin of power usage been trying to buy a intel e3 1240L v5 or 1235L v5 for the past month for a home server. Seem like nice 25W quad core chips but NOBODY has them. Have orders out to 2 different vendors one of them is dell and nobody knows when there might be 1 cpu for me.

    1. Hans 1

      Re: if arm was good for servers

      >Linux has arm for probably 15 or more years now.

      Mostly for embedded devices and very successful, your router, set-top box, NAS etc

      Now that ARM has 64-bit support, we are starting to consider it for the server, however, for that, you need to upscale massively ... more cores, fast interconnects etc EXACTLY this is coming.

      AMD just launched Zen, ARM licensees are beefing up their server kit - this is starting to look bad for Intel ... I bought a 5820k some years ago, the most recent iteration for that CPU (6800K) gives me 5% more THEORETICAL power, WTF are you smoking, Intel ? This means, ARM and AMD have caught up ... last time AMD caught up, Intel was in the shit for some years, this time, however, they have not JUST one major competitor on x86_64, BUT a whole bunch of others on ARM64.

      Customers like me are miffed, because of the stagnation ...

      Besides, more on topic of this article ... generic drivers suck performance wise, just saying ...

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: if arm was good for servers

        "generic drivers suck performance wise, just saying"

        But what really sucks is no driver at all and I refer you to the fine article on this precise point: Engineers who have experienced ARM SoCs in the embedded world will know the pain of hunting for documentation and driver source.

        If MS have the clout to force this on ARM server vendors, perhaps they have the clout to force it on tablets and phones, too. Then we could run a phone that was patched in a timely fashion and kept up to date with the latest version of the OS that it claimed to be running, without having to sell our souls to the data-slurp-merchants.

  4. bobajob12

    You've come a long way, baby

    Acorn RISC Machines. ARM.

    I feel my purchase of a BBC Master circa 1988 and playing Zarch on an Archimedes played a small but vital role in keeping this flame of Brit engineering alive.

    (We really need an icon for long-dead-but-much-loved, what with all the COBOL, AS/400 and RiscOS floating around El Reg lately.)

    1. druck Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: You've come a long way, baby

      RISC OS kept ARM alive, and now some of us are still keeping RISC OS alive on ARM, with Raspberry Pi's and a number of new more powerful development boards.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: You've come a long way, baby

        reminds me of a quote from the movie 'Hackers' - "RISC is good"

    2. Def Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: You've come a long way, baby

      Yep, I cut my programming teeth on a BBC with BASIC (version II iirc).

      The next logical step was an Archimedes with BASIC V which allowed inline ARM assembler. I haven't looked back since.

      Programming ARM assembler is still the most enjoyable experience I've ever had as a programmer. It's such a beautifully designed language and processor.

    3. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: You've come a long way, baby

      That brings back memories. It's not quite 30 years (June 1987) since Tim and I started porting 1st Word Plus to the Archimedes.

      Who would have thought it, especially after MS dropped support for MIPS, etc. after NT4.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: You've come a long way, baby

        Maybe some bright Sparc could get it running on Alpha too

    4. P0l0nium

      Re: You've come a long way, baby

      ARM is now owned 75% by the Japanese and 25% by the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi

      Don't get TOO patriotic :-)

  5. Peter2 Silver badge

    That, and the fact that it wants Intel – which dominates the global server compute market, and supplies Microsoft's data centers with chips – to slash its prices.

    It shouldn't escape notice that as soon as AMD released a chip that competed with Intel the prices of the Intel range in competition were slashed by over 30% overnight.

    So, Microsoft want Intel's server chip prices lower? Would anybody care to give odds as what's going to happen to Xeon pricing when the Ryzen Naples server variant gets released in about 3 months?

    Just stop buying exclusively Intel because (presumably) they offer a better price if you do. They only do that so they can then wipe out the competition and crank prices up, at which point your short term discount becomes a long term disaster as has happened here.

    If large companies (and cloud providers certainly count!) bought at least a certain percentage of AMD chips then it'd keep AMD afloat and in competition, which means better chips for a lower price as a result of healthy competition.

    Without AMD's competition in the past, I honestly believe that we would be paying a lot more for a small fraction of the processing power available now and this is true of the future as well. If AMD goes down then R&D is practically going to halt and prices are going to go up like a rocket.

    1. P0l0nium

      So why don't you show the world where you can buy an i7 6900K for $700 ...

      Not here

      And still listed at $1000+ on ARK.

      If there was a checkbox for hyperbole , you'd get some informed upvotes.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        According to this site:-

        The i7 6900K price dropped 20% to $999 last week as the Ryzen pricing and performance was hitting the press.

  6. Unicornpiss

    Bing search..

    So, they're switching Bing search over to ARM and firing the team of blind monkeys with their dartboard that previously performed searches?

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Bing search..

      >So, they're switching Bing search over to ARM and firing the team of blind monkeys with their dartboard that previously performed searches?

      Yeah - without their dartboard pressure sensors group they've lost their IoT division at the same time...

  7. Mage Silver badge

    is now built from a single source code base

    "Windows – both the Server and client flavors – is now built from a single source code base"

    Oh, party like before 1999 (NT 3.1, NT3.51 NT4.0 all ran on multiple cpu types and essentially only difference between Server & WS was the default registry settings and number of clients allowed).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just why would you want to run MS server on ARM?

    What can windows server do that linux cannot?

    Why pay for MS Server when linux us free?

    Why does MS deserve your time or interest after the forced Slurp of the last few years? or the fact that they never release bug free secure code.

    The days when unix was limited to the players with millions to invest are gone so why use a crippled unix ripoff for a low spec platform that wants to make you keep paying forever

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Just why would you want to run MS server on ARM?

      If you are Microsoft, it may make more sense to run Windows on Arm than Linux.

      I actually used MS Xenix back in 1987, I think.

      MS DOES have a linux for their Edge Routers.

      So the day MS can make more money from Linux than Windows, then Windows brand will be actually running Linux ("Windows" has been three totally incompatible platforms in the past).

      MS ultimately has no allegiance to an OS or a CPU. They even had MS version of OS/2 (without IBM!) between XENIX and first NT, the NT3.1, perhaps that's why NT starts at 3.x, not because of the DOS + GUI shell of Win 2., Win 286, Win 3.x, WFWG 3.x. Win 4 was a Chinese version of Win3.1 and Win95 was really a roll up of WFWG3.11 + Win32s + VFW etc with new explorer Shell.

      Same applies to Apple. They will replace Mac OSX on Intel with iOS ARM if it makes financial or PR sense to do so. Mac started on 68000 then was Power PC. OS X has no relationshiip internally to OS 9 and earlier. Apple has no allegiance to Intel or any OS, only profit.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Just why would you want to run MS server on ARM?

        > first NT, the NT3.1, perhaps that's why NT starts at 3.x,

        The first NT was 3.1 because it used the Windows 3.1 GUI.

        (and anyway no one should use any versions before 3.x).

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: Just why would you want to run MS server on ARM?

          "and anyway no one should use any versions before 3.x"

          or after 7.... (yeah they're all "2D FLATSO FLUGLY")

          A bit of inaccuracy regarding what Win '9x was, in an earlier post. Win '9x was not entirely just "Win32s plus WfWg" because it had thread support, though OSR2 was considered to be TRULY pre-emptive internally (as I recall) but not its predecessor. It's been too long since then, so my memory might be off a bit. Anyway M$ was selling it as an "NT light" of sorts, focusing on 16-bitness for some hardware backwards compatibility.

          Thinking of the 2D FLATSO FLUGLY-ness of M-shaft's latest versions, maybe Intel should focus on THEIR END for 'nuking' the WinTel monopoly by PROMOTING LINUX DESKTOP MACHINES.

  9. russsh

    WinComm? WinAvium?

    How about "MicroSoftBank"?

  10. W. Anderson

    Microsoft, still in catch-up mode

    This and seversl other articles about Microsoft's adoption of ARM based server technology always give "impression" that somehow Microsft is visionary in that regard.

    In fact, not alternative-fact, Redhat, SuSE Enterprise Linux as well as several FreeBSD (UNIX-like) based projects have been successfully working on advanced ARM based servers for years, paving the way for Micrsoft.

    At least Kudos to Microsoft for wishing to catch-up.

  11. nickwright80


    I can't wait for Microsoft France to try pronouncing this...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The press has widely misunderstood what Microsoft said

    They did NOT say they were going with ARM for half their servers, they said half their servers were of a type that is amenable to using ARM. That's the difference between saying "I do half my grocery shopping at the Farmer's Market" and "I am able to buy half the items on my grocery list at the Farmer's Market".

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