Microsoft is set to revolutionize the AI landscape with the upcoming release of Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100 chips in 2024. These custom-built chips respond to the growing demand for AI capabilities while aiming to reduce reliance on current market leaders like Nvidia. Positioned as game-changers in cloud infrastructure, these releases signal Microsoft’s commitment to reshaping the tech landscape.
In an interview with The Verge, Rani Borkar, head of Azure hardware systems and infrastructure at Microsoft, highlighted Microsoft’s extensive background in silicon development.
“Microsoft actually has a long history in silicon development.”
So, what did these chips offer? We gathered all the things know about Azure Cobalt 100 and Maia 100.
|Features||Azure Maia 100||Azure Cobalt 100|
|Purpose||AI accelerator for cloud AI workloads||General-purpose cloud services on Azure|
|Design||Custom AI accelerator||128-core Arm-based design|
|Manufacturing process||5-nanometer TSMC process||N/A|
|Transistor count||105 billion transistors||N/A|
|Primary functionality||Large language model training & inference||Powering general cloud services on Azure|
|Innovative features||MX data types for faster processing||Granular power management, per-core control|
|Cooling system||Liquid-cooled server processor||Liquid-cooled server processor|
|Collaboration||Collaboration with OpenAI for design||N/A|
|Testing||GPT 3.5 Turbo, AI workloads testing||Testing on Microsoft Teams, SQL server, etc.|
|Integration in Azure||Powers AI workloads on Azure||Planned integration for Azure cloud services|
|Roadmap||Part of a potential series of advancements||Potential future iterations yet to be disclosed|
Azure Cobalt 100 chip
The Azure Cobalt 100 chip by Microsoft is a 128-core Arm-based processor designed specifically for powering general cloud services on their Azure platform. It offers fine-tuned control over performance and power consumption per core and is undergoing testing across various Microsoft applications. Initial assessments suggest a notable performance boost of up to 40 percent compared to existing commercial Arm servers. Integrated into Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure,
Cobalt 100 features liquid cooling for higher server densities within current data center setups. Its potential collaboration with partners and indication as part of a series of developments highlight Microsoft’s commitment to tailored silicon solutions for optimizing cloud service performance and efficiency.
Azure Maia 100 chip
The Azure Maia 100 chip by Microsoft is a custom-built AI accelerator designed specifically for cloud-based AI workloads, prioritizing tasks like large language model training and inference. Manufactured using a cutting-edge 5-nanometer TSMC process, it integrates innovative sub 8-bit data types to enhance speed.
Collaborations with OpenAI underscore its role in powering significant AI workloads on Azure. With a focus on efficiency, liquid cooling, and strategic standardization efforts, Maia embodies Microsoft’s commitment to shaping the future of AI infrastructure. Its series nomenclature hints at potential future iterations and advancements in Microsoft’s AI-focused silicon development.