The Microsoft Azure Maia 100 accelerator is the first designed by Microsoft for training and inferencing large language models in the company's cloud. Photo: Microsoft.

Microsoft has designed two new chips, one optimized for artificial intelligence (AI) tasks and one for performing work in the company's cloud, the tech giant announced Wednesday.

A company statement released at the annual Microsoft Ignite conference states that "the chips will begin rolling out early next year in Microsoft data centers and will initially power company services such as Microsoft Copilot (an AI-powered digital assistant) or the Azure OpenAI service (which provides customers with advanced programming language AI)."

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According to Microsoft, the new AI accelerator chip, Maia 100, will power some of the largest loads running on Microsoft Azure, its cloud service. It was also designed for the Azure hardwarsuite, which could help generate huge gains in performance and efficiency.

"Azure Maia was designed specifically for AI and to achieve absolute maximum hardware utilization," said Brian Harry, a technical fellow at Microsoft.

"We were thrilled when Microsoft first shared its designs for the Maia chip, and we worked together to refine and test it with our models," said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

The second technology, Cobalt 100, based on ARM's architecture, will enable general-purpose computing workloads to run in the Microsoft cloud. Thanks to ARM technology, the chip design is energy-efficient and optimized for greater efficiency and performance in cloud-native offerings.

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"Software is our core strength, but honestly, we're a systems company," said Rani Borkar, Corporate Vice President of Azure Hardware Systems and Infrastructure (AHSI), adding that they are "co-designing and optimizing hardware and software together so that one plus one is more than two."

In that context, Microsoft joins the chip competition in the field of AI. Last October, U.S.-based Nvidia Corp. and Taiwan's Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) announced a partnership to create "artificial intelligence factories," which will be able to process large amounts of data and transform it into AI models using chips.

(With information from RT and Microsoft)