Microsoft is working on a new network card that could enhance the capabilities of its Maia AI server chip, potentially reducing its reliance on chip designer NVIDIA, as reported by The Information on Tuesday (21 Feb).

Pradeep Sindhu, co-founder of networking equipment developer Juniper Networks, has been appointed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to lead the development of the network card. Sindhu’s server chip startup Fungible was acquired by Microsoft in 2023.

The new network card reportedly bears similarities to Nvidia’s ConnectX-7 card, commonly sold alongside its graphic processor units.

The development process is anticipated to take over a year. If successful, the new equipment could potentially reduce the time required for OpenAI to train its models on Microsoft servers and make the process more cost-effective.

In November, Microsoft introduced Maia, a chip designed to run large language models and support AI computing. The company’s investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI has been substantial, giving it a competitive edge in the race to sell AI software.

The news comes as Nvidia’s fortunes continue to rise. Today (21 Feb), Nvidia surpassed Tesla as Wall Street’s most-traded stock by value, cementing its prominence as the third-most valuable US company.

Nvidia, holding about 80% of the high-end AI chip market, recently surpassed the market capitalisation of both Amazon and Alphabet to become Wall Street’s third-most valuable company, trailing only Microsoft and Apple.

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence: Tech, Media & Telecom report predicts that the industry’s biggest customers are shunning established merchant market suppliers and bringing chip development in-house:

“However, while Apple, Amazon, Meta, and Tesla will continue to design their own chips and have them manufactured by TSMC, the likes of Alibaba, Baidu, and HiSilicon (Huawei) will struggle to do so unless China can develop a domestic fabrication capability without using US technology.”

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