Microsoft may be lifting a page from Apple’s book. Microsoft’s Surface division recently posted a job listing (via HotHardware) for a system-on-a-chip (SoC) architect, implying that the company may be interested in producing its own version of M1 Chip For Surface Surface devices.
Because a job ad doesn’t confirm anything — it merely hints at what Microsoft might be working on — it shouldn’t be assumed that Microsoft is developing an M1 rival. It makes sense, especially because Apple is slated to release its M1X CPU next week, giving it a competitive advantage over Intel.
The most recent Surface products, such as the Surface Laptop Studio, are powered by Intel CPUs, maintaining Microsoft and Intel’s decades-long cooperation. Apple moved away from Intel with the introduction of its M1 SoC, which is cooler and quieter while providing comparable performance.
Going with an in-house SoC provides some advantages aside from vertically integrating the hardware. Instead of an Intel slot-in architecture, Microsoft would be able to choose the design that best matches its devices, potentially resulting in a more efficient SoC overall.
This is exemplified by the M1. It’s strong in the right places, but Apple skipped over features like support for multiple external monitors in order to keep the design-focused.
It’s no secret that Apple is on the cutting edge of SoC design. Intel’s Alder Lake processors, which use a hybrid design comparable to the M1, are taking notes. Even if we never see a Surface gadget powered by Microsoft-developed silicon, it makes sense for the company to look into it.
Despite the fact that the Surface Laptop 4 included an AMD processor, Microsoft has largely relied on Intel for its Surface line. And no Surface gadget has ever used Microsoft-developed silicon.
The job description mentions someone who can determine “the features and capabilities of SoC utilized on Surface devices,” implying that Microsoft is interested in a semi-customized design at the very least.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has done something like this. The Xbox Series X uses a semi-custom AMD SoC, and Microsoft has advertised a job for an SoC silicon architect in its Xbox and Azure divisions.
However, we won’t know anything for at least a year. Microsoft recently announced a new generation of Surface tablets, and while the company may be working on its own SoC, it may opt to use Intel or AMD for the next generation. Nonetheless, Microsoft’s decision makes sense. Even Intel has stated that Apple would be its primary competitor in the future. We can only infer that Microsoft is looking into a similar project.
Nonetheless, we advise treating the posting with caution. A job listing doesn’t always imply that Microsoft is working on an M1 competitor.