Companies designing their silicon in some form or another appears to be the big game in the consumer tech sector these days. Of course, Apple has been making the Apple A series of CPUs for iPhones and iPads for far longer than its competitors, but Google appears to be catching up. Vivo, too, got in on the action with their V1 envision signal processor. Microsoft’s possible participation in the bandwagon is unsurprising, though its exact plans are still the subject of much conjecture and dispute.
As one of the world’s largest and oldest technology companies, Microsoft is inevitably involved in many parts of the business. It wouldn’t surprise me if Microsoft has been developing its silicon behind the scenes, but nothing that users would be able to see, let alone use. That could change soon, especially given recent trends in the consumer technology market.
Microsoft has posted a job listing for a Director of System-on-Chip (SoC) Architecture, according to HotHardware. Of course, that alone isn’t proof of the company’s silicon ambitions, but it does suggest that it is preparing for a major push in that direction.
There were also reports about a Microsoft-AMD collaboration on a special chip, but it wasn’t the one you’d expect. This is purportedly an ARM-based Cortex-X1 CPU rather than an x86/x64 processor like AMD’s Ryzen chips. This could be a dig at Qualcomm, who partnered with Microsoft on the Surface Pro X’s SQ1 and SQ2 CPUs, which were essentially tweaked Snapdragon processors based on the Snapdragon 8cx compute platforms.
Microsoft might get the same edge that Apple and, soon, Google have in fine-tuning both hardware and software experiences for their users if it develops its Surface technology. However, Microsoft hasn’t had the best luck in developing its hardware, so going down this road will be a major risk, especially if it ruffles Intel’s feathers.