Microsoft and Qualcomm have announced a new partnership that will see Windows Server finally come to ARM chips. The company has committed to introduce ARM chips in cloud service machines in its own datacenters. To make this possible, Qualcomm’s Centriq 2400 chip will power the ARM servers.
The two companies are forming a strengthening bond. Qualcomm has already agreed to make Windows 10 PCs using ARM chips. Of course Microsoft has used the company’s Snapdragon mobile processors in numerous Lumia smartphones.
This latest announcement is arguably more important as it branches into cloud services, which is now Microsoft’s core business. By using the Centriq 2400, Microsoft will introduce Windows Server OS to ARM for the first time.
Qualcomm’s Centriq 2400 is an ARM-based processor that is specifically designed to run cloud servers. The company is showing the server at the Open Project Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California today. The hardware for Windows Server will be for Microsoft to use internally within its own datacenters.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has not said when it will bring Windows Server to ARM servers. However, the confirmation that it will happen is significant. It is worth remembering that in 2011 Microsoft said it was completely uninterested in developing Windows Server on ARM.
At the moment, Windows Server editions only work with x86 chips from Intel and AMD. The former of those two companies has the market largely sewn up and is on over 90% of all Windows Server servers. However, Intel’s dominance in several markets has been under threat recently, with AMD’s Ryzen processors putting pressure on the consumer market.
Qualcomm Developing Windows Server ARM Support
Qualcomm is helping Microsoft. The company has developed a new version of Windows Server hardware that runs the Centriq 2400. This Motherboard server has 48 CPU cores and is small enough to slot into a 1U server chassis. Qualcomm based the processor on the new open source cloud hardware Project Olympus
The company has sent out a press release explaining the Microsoft collaboration:
“With the goal of enabling a variety of cloud workloads to run on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform powered by Qualcomm Centriq 2400 server solutions, QDT today submitted a server specification using its advanced 10 nanometer Qualcomm Centriq 2400 platform to OCP. Moreover, QDT today conducted the first public demonstration of Windows Server, developed for Microsoft’s internal use, powered by the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor.
QDT has been working with Microsoft for several years on ARM-based server enablement and has onsite engineering at Microsoft to collaboratively optimize a version of Windows Server, for Microsoft’s internal use in its data centers, on Qualcomm Centriq 2400-based systems. QDT’s OCP submission is the result of a multi-faceted, multi-level engagement between the two companies to facilitate ARM adoption into the data center. It encompasses multiple areas of hardware and software including board development, firmware, operating system, compilers and tools, and CoreCLR.”