back to article The future of the cloud sure looks like it'll be paved in even more custom silicon

As cloud datacenters grow ever larger and complex, providers are increasingly developing their own chips to eke out performance, efficiency, and cost savings over their competitors. Today, the top cloud providers employ a suite of in-house silicon for everything from general compute to networking, storage, and AI training and …

  1. ChoHag Silver badge

    <Alan Turing> Here is the invention of software*. With it we can build machines without relying on slow, expensive physical manufacturing.

    <Big Tech> Let's bake that into silicon.

    [*] OK not quite but he did laud the ability of his newly applied maths to build machines without physical constraints on manufacturing in one of his papers. That I've lost.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      So, what's new? Silicon designers have been baking specific functions into silicon forever, in pursuit of better performance. For example, one didn't need an 8087 maths coprocessor to do maths but it's a lot faster with one.

      The real problems come when "custom" gets used to lock up a market, create monopolies. If an AWS customer gets hooked on some bespoke Amazon AI accelerator they can't use market competition to get a fair price.

      The only good thing about what's going on is that with all these vendors putting so much effort into making it easy for customers to build ideas into product, it becomes easier to reimplement that product from scratch on some other hosting platform offering similar capabilities. Hopefully the hosting platform providers will overdo what they provide and make this too easy. It then becomes normal to develop your cloud app for, say, AWS and get it working there, and then redo it on Azure, Google, whomever, and keep those in one's back pocket. If AWS becomes too expensive, fire up the Azure version of your cloud app, shift the data over, bye bye Bezos.

      That's basically what happened with cars. By deskilling driving, suddenly there's no reason to be brand loyal. Cloud app development is not yet at that level, but by trying to make it "easy*, they're headed that way.

      My fear is that they'll realise this, and work against that in subtle ways, eg by making it expensive to bulk export one's data, or being shit at DNS cache cleaning, or something like that. For example Google, running their own DNS servers, could "accidentally" make your life hell if you'd had the cheek to move your website off their servers to Amazon's. "That's a nice web address you have got there, want it to continue to resolve properly to your AWS microservices?".

      With a lot of these providers also being active in the search and advertising market too, the opportunities for them to suppress competition in Cloud are immense. Google are well known for exploiting their search muscle to force companies to advertise with them. Unrestrained, they and the others will do the same with hosting and AI.

      Marketing call

      "Advertise with us, like your competitor does, and maybe you'll get an AI as smart as the one they're running. No? Oh dear, your AI has just lost a few neurons, got a bit thick as it were, senility is such a sad thing to see in a machine as wonderful as yours... ".

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: fire up the Azure version of your cloud app, shift the data over

        That's where the problem lies. Sure you can fire up another cloud, but transiting petabytes of data from one to the other will be difficult by the sole virtue of size.

        Not to mention that, on the other cloud, there's almost certainly something that will be different enough for you to have a headache getting everything running like before.

  2. abend0c4

    Sanction-proof RISC-V chips

    I would think that any chips made in China are pretty much sanction proof. If you have the capability to build RISC-V chips there's pretty much nothing stopping you building chips with other instruction sets. You might not be able to export, say, an x64 variant, but you can probably compensate for those you can't import.

    You could even contemplate building chips with "soft" instruction sets, which might come in quite handy in bit barns as well as dealing with supply curtailments.

  3. pimppetgaeghsr Bronze badge

    What ever happened to Qualcomm's Nuvia? Did they just abandon that server chip for more middle-managers and diversity quotas?

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Meta's Grand Teton

    In French, grand teton means big nipple.

    I'll just leave you guys with that knowledge . . .

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