Microsoft Azure is going all in on Arm-based chips

data centre
(Image credit: Future)

In the bid to become the cloud service to rule them all, Microsoft Azure has introduced a new Arm-based virtual machine in preview, based on Ampere Altra chips.

The goal, as Microsoft explains in a new blog post, is to offer clients as much power as possible while using as little energy as possible. Easy peasy. 

"The new VMs are engineered to efficiently run scale-out workloads, web servers, application servers, open-source databases, cloud-native as well as rich .NET applications, Java applications, gaming servers, media servers and more," says Microsoft's Paul Nash.

A race for the top 

In some cases, the new Arm-based chips offer up to 50% better price-performance than the comparable x86-based VMs, which is a pretty staggering increase for those running workloads at huge scale. 

According to Microsoft, the new VMs offer Ampere Altra chips running at up to 3GHz with up to 64 vCPUs and up to 40Gbps networking. The VMs support Canonical Ubuntu Linux, CentOS, and Windows 11 Professional and Enterprise Edition. 

Of course, while Microsoft is making waves by offering Arm-based chips Amazon is already there. 

AWS offers the Graviton3, an Arm-based CPU built specifically for huge workloads, and the results speak for themselves. One analysis shows AWS is leading the way for Arm-based adoption in the cloud. 

TrendForce says that, by 2025, Arm-based chips will be represented in 22% of data centres, a pretty staggering figure.

So the race is pretty clearly on for Azure: introduce Arm-based chips as soon as possible or face losing ground to its arch rival AWS, which already dominates in many other cloud sectors. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.