Microsoft seems to realize the uncertainty around the future of x86 computingand is sad to be working on a version of its software for server computers that run on chips based on ARM Holdings s technology -- a move that could be challenging for Intel.
Bloomberg's sources claim that Redmond is already testing a version of Windows Server that’s already running on ARM-based servers. Microsoft now only offers a server operating system for use on Intel’s X86 technology-based processors.
An ARM-based version of Windows Server could challenge Intel’s dominance. ARM dominates in mobile-phone chips, while Intel has 98 percent of the market for processors used in servers that run on personal-computer chips.
The advantages of ARM chips compared to x86 designs are obvious. Most important of them, is their low power draw. Typically, a 64-bit ARM powered microserver has a thermal design power (TDP) of of between 10 and 45 watts. A conventional x86 server runs more than 90 watts.
Linux is already leading the way to 64-bit ARM data centers. The major business Linux vendors, Canonical, Red Hat, and SUSE have had Linux running on 64-bit ARM processors for years now.
Red Hat, with AMD, American Megatrends, AppliedMicro, ARM, Cavium, Dell, HP and Linaro, are taking the next step. Canonical showed earlier this year with AppledMicro that Ubuntu will not just run on 64-bit ARM, it could be used to run an OpenStack cloud.
Hewlett-Packard is offering a version of its Moonshot server line that runs on ARM-based processors from Applied Micro Circuits.
It seems that moving Windows Server and Azure to 64-bit ARM fits into both Microsoft's technical and business plans.