Intel has been chosen by Microsoft to manufacture its forthcoming custom chip, according to reports


Intel’s Foundry division, formerly known as Intel Foundry Services, has secured a significant contract with Microsoft, as per reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that his company will leverage Intel’s latest 18A (1.8nm) fabrication process for an upcoming in-house chip design. However, considering Intel’s process roadmap, it’s likely that Microsoft’s new chip won’t hit the market until 2025.

While the specifics of the chip were not disclosed by either company, Microsoft previously unveiled its custom-made Azure Maia AI Accelerator and Azure Cobalt 100 CPU server chips in November, aiming for an early release this year to enhance its AI services. Notably, the Cobalt 100 is based on Arm architecture, and Intel has been optimizing its 18A process for Arm designs since April last year, making collaboration on the next-gen Cobalt CPU probable.

Intel’s 18A process offers notable efficiency improvements as node size decreases and introduces the industry’s first backside power solution. This innovation separates the power interconnect layer from the data interconnect layer, resulting in improved voltage regulation and lower resistance, particularly advantageous for 3D stacking applications.

At the Intel Foundry Direct Connect event, Intel unveiled an extended process technology roadmap, introducing the 14A (1.4nm) node enabled by ASML’s High-NA EUV lithography system. This leap may help Intel catch up after its late EUV adoption for its Intel 4 (7nm) node, with risk production slated for late 2026.

Intel Foundry, spearheaded by CEO Pat Gelsinger, aims to challenge TSMC and Samsung in the contract chip-making market. Prior to Microsoft, Intel Foundry’s client roster included MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Amazon. The company is determined to become the second-largest external foundry by 2030 in terms of manufacturing revenue, with aspirations to achieve this milestone as early as this year.