Microsoft Bets Its Future on FPGA Chips (@wired, @CadeMetz)
From Cade Metz at Wired (with a somewhat hyperbolic headline), “Microsoft Bets Its Future on a Reprogrammable Computer Chip”:
Today, the programmable chips that Burger and Lu believed would transform the world—called field programmable gate arrays—are here. FPGAs already underpin Bing, and in the coming weeks, they will drive new search algorithms based on deep neural networks—artificial intelligence modeled on the structure of the human brain—executing this AI several orders of magnitude faster than ordinary chips could. As in, 23 milliseconds instead of four seconds of nothing on your screen. FPGAs also drive Azure, the company’s cloud computing service. And in the coming years, almost every new Microsoft server will include an FPGA. That’s millions of machines across the globe. “This gives us massive capacity and enormous flexibility, and the economics work,” Burger says. “This is now Microsoft’s standard, worldwide architecture.”
Fascinating look into what Microsoft is doing with FPGAs. Seems like a clever use of an established technology and a different approach from Google and possibly others, i.e., choosing rapid reprogramming over optimized chip design to take advantage of changes in implementing artificial intelligence in software.