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Xilinx Inc., has reportedly won orders from Microsoft Corp.’s Azure cloud unit to account for half of the co-processors currently used on Azure servers to handle machine-learning workloads. This will replace the chips made by Intel Corp, according to people familiar with Microsoft’s’ plans as reported by Bloomberg

Microsoft’s decision comes with effect to add another chip supplier in order to serve more customers interested in machine learning. To date, this domain was run by Intel’s Altera division. Now that Xilinx has bagged the deal, does this mean Intel will no longer serve Microsoft?
Bloomberg reported Microsoft’s confirmation that it will continue its relationship with Intel in its current offerings. A Microsoft spokesperson added that “There has been no change of sourcing for existing infrastructure and offerings”.

Sources familiar with the arrangement also commented on how Xilinx chips will have to achieve performance goals to determine the scope of their deployment.

Cloud vendors these days are investing heavily in research and development centering around the machine learning field. The past few years has seen an increase in need of flexible chips that can be configured to run machine-learning services. Companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon are massive buyers of server chips and are always looking for alternatives to standard processors to increase the efficiency of their data centres.

Holger Mueller, an analyst with Constellation Research Inc., told SiliconANGLE that “Programmable chips are key to the success of infrastructure-as-a-service providers as they allow them to utilize existing CPU capacity better, They’re also key enablers for next-generation application technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

Earlier this year, Xilinx CEO Victor Peng made clear his plans to focus on data center customers, saying “data center is an area of rapid technology adoption where customers can quickly take advantage of the orders of magnitude performance and performance per-watt improvement that Xilinx technology enables in applications like artificial intelligence (AI) inference, video and image processing, and genomics”

Last month, Xilinx made headlines with the announcement of a new breed of computer chips designed specifically for AI inference. These chips combine FPGAs with two higher-performance Arm processors, plus a dedicated AI compute engine and relates to the application of deep learning models in consumer and cloud environments. The chips promise higher throughput, lower latency and greater power efficiency than existing hardware.

Looks like Xilinx is taking noticeable steps to make itself seen in the AI market.
Head over to Bloomberg for the complete coverage of this news.

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