Art impression of AI chip

Microsoft announces custom AI chip November 2023

Microsoft is working on its own artificial intelligence chip, code-named Athena, that could compete with Nvidia’s products.

The company introduced two new microchips.

The first, its Maia 100 artificial intelligence chip, could compete with Nvidia’s highly sought-after AI graphics processing units.

The second, a Cobalt 100 Arm chip, is aimed at general computing tasks and could compete with Intel processors.

The chip is designed for training large language models (LLM’s) like ChatGPT and powering AI applications. Microsoft has been developing the chip since 2019 using Taiwan Semiconductor’s 5-nanometer process.  The chip is currently being tested by a small select group of Microsoft and OpenAI employees.

Long-term objective

Microsoft’s objective is to reduce its dependency on third-party hardware providers and to customize its AI infrastructure for its own projects.

Microsoft has invested billions in OpenAI, which makes ChatGPT, to enhance its position in the AI field. The Athena chip could also enable Microsoft to add AI capabilities to its Office products and GitHub, but it has already achieved this using the OpenAI system.

Microsoft has not announced when the chip will be available to the public or to its Azure cloud customers.

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