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Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips coming to Azure next week

Microsoft will release its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers in public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned.

During an analyst briefing before Build, Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI group, directly compared Cobalt to AWS’s Graviton chips, which have been available to developers for several years now. Guthrie said Microsoft’s chips will deliver 40% better performance than other ARM chips on the market. Adobe, Snowflake and others have already started using the new chips.

Microsoft first announced its Cobalt chips last November. These 64-bit chips are based on the Arm architecture and feature 128 cores.

In addition to the Cobalt chips, Microsft will also make AMD’s MI300X accelerators available to Azure customers next week. Despite being a major GPU maker, AMD has long lagged behind Nvidia in the AI ​​space, but as major cloud providers seek alternatives to Nvidia’s expensive chips – and AMD has started to gain traction in this area by offering better software support – these new chips are now also a hot commodity.

Guthrie described it as “the most cost-effective GPU currently for Azure OpenAI.”

In other news we learned, Microsoft will lower its prices for accessing and running large language models during Build next week. However, what exactly this will look like remains unclear.

Microsoft will also preview a new “real-time intelligence system” that will enable real-time data streaming into Fabric, Microsoft’s data analytics system. This system will offer native Kafka integration but also support for AWS Kinesis and Google Cloud Pub/Sub data streaming systems.

Microsoft will also announce a partnership with Snowflake. Fabric will now support Snowflake’s Iceberg format (in addition to Databrick’s Parquet), which will enable “seamless interoperability with Snowflake and allow all data contained in Snowflake to appear in Fabric and vice versa.”

And for you Copilot fans: Microsoft plans to launch a new feature that will allow developers to manage their Azure resources directly from Copilot, using natural language. “This is going to enable an even tighter development loop with natural language in your development stack and Azure,” Guthrie said. This system is built on a common extensibility mechanism, so other providers will also be able to connect to it and offer similar functionality.


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