Microsoft uses FPGA to speed up Bing and Azure

Pictured are Sitaram Lanka and Derek Chiou, two of Microsoft's leading engineers.


Microsoft has a certain affinity for FPGA.

In 2011, the company started an experiment to determine the feasibility of using FPGA to power all of Microsoft’s flagship services. The experiment, nicknamed Project Catapult, was a success. This meant that FPGA became an integral part of Microsoft’s hardware.

So what are the benefits that come with using an FPGA?

  • Microsoft can rely on less hardware. Compared to CPUs, FPGA can process data at a faster rate. During the initial Project Catapult stage, the FPGA produced over a 40 fold speed-up compared to a CPU.
  • Towards the end of 2016, Microsoft will start relying on artificial intelligence to improve its search results. Deep neural networks will allow Bing to learn with each new search, meaning that search results will be more accurate.
  • The same applies for Microsoft’s web-based cloud computing platform, Microsoft Azure. Using FPGA, Microsoft can build a supercomputer that can handle varying demands from companies, including peak usage times and large workloads.
  • Finally, the FPGA can be reprogrammed to accommodate new advances in artifical intelligence.

“The ability to do deep learning more quickly – using that AI supercomputer in the cloud – has broad implications. It could vastly speed up advances in automatic translation, accelerate medical breakthroughs and create automated productivity tools that better anticipate our needs and solve our workday problems,” writes Microsoft research blogger, Allison Linn.

To learn more check out Microsoft’s blog.

Luxe Electronics is an independent distributor of electronic components based in Amesbury, MA. We work with a lot of FPGA which means we keep an eye out for any advances in FPGA technology. Currently, we are open to both FPGA RFQs and excess offers. To learn more about the company, click here.

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