Many people are surprised when told that out of all the major tech companies – Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon – it is Microsoft that spends the most on research and development.
And with Satya Nadella at the head, who pushed for the creation of an internal organization called NeXT (New Experiences and Technologies), Microsoft is investing even more into its R&D programs.
One such bet being made by Microsoft is on FPGAs or Field Programmable Gate Arrays.
Typically, the circuits in the chips in any electronic device, like your mobile, laptop, or the servers underpinning the internet, are fixed – they are designed once and those chips can only be good to do jobs that they have been designed for; there’s no room for change. If you want a newer, better chip with an improved design, you have to re-create those chips at the hardware level.
But with FPGAs, the chips’ hardware is essentially redesigned via software. This can have huge implications for the tech giants of today, and the internet overall, as the data continues to grow exponentially, requiring ever more efficient hardware support.
To read more about how FPGAs became the core of Microsoft’s Bing and Azure services, see this link.