back to article Microsoft inserts 'new kind of computer ... into our cloud' for speedier Azure services

Microsoft is using Intel Altera Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) chips to speed up Azure services, according to an announcement at the Ignite event under way in Atlanta. FPGA chips aim to combine the performance advantage of hardware with the flexibility of software. They are integrated circuits that can be reconfigured …

  1. getHandle

    Interesting...

    FPGA> "It looks like you are trying to write a letter..."

  2. hplasm Silver badge
    Devil

    The benefit though is huge speed-up for certain specialist tasks.

    Deep Packet Inspection?

    Targeted Advertising?

    Something to hack at when Azure is down...again?

  3. Steve Evans

    An FPGA to bounds check all the HTTP parameters, because web programmers don't seem capable if it?

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      A couple of other thoughts:

      * Do packet re-assembly so the OS sees far fewer calls to the TCP/IP stack.

      * pre-filter simple and well-known attacks so that the OS's firewall doesn't waste time killing TCP SYN attacks

      * Provide rudimentary load-balancing (EG, server process is busy, so redirects packets out to a replica server)

      * Run a small HTTP server to serve up static data that doesn't need much in the way of cycles.

      * Pre-filter SQL statements to kill bad requests before the application has a chance to choke on them

      * Drop data directly into application's memory space (SO that the OS doesn't have to determine it)

  4. Dwarf Silver badge

    Gates, standards and syphons

    Well, they are obviously missing Bill, so they have added in a bucket load of replacement gates - presumably hoping to add some sparkle back into MS.

    From what they are detailing though, it sounds like they have built a network card - it talks to other devices across the network, talks to the server via the PCI bus.

    Given that networks are based on standards - the good old OSI model etc, you have to wonder what they are hoping to do with their new home grown NIC's - some form of fancy new security layer, or other low level fiddling with the network stack, or is it just some form of tap siphoning packets off to somewhere for logging and analysis by people in smart black suits.

    I'm also wondering how buggy their VHDL code will be - after all its very different to the sort of development they are used to, or did they get Altera to help out in that bit ?

  5. Uffish

    "...it’s a new kind of computer that’s been inserted into our cloud. That layer can do networking, it can do AI, it can do other things".

    Microsoft script writers seem to be Terminator fans.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And what happens when the script kiddies make it do something else?

  7. razorfishsl

    This is the same system they use on the stock markets, the FPGA sits on the network cable and is capable of preempting action without having to see the full communication packet.

    It gave the users a significant edge until everyone started to use them.

    You then pack up a reply packet on an outgoing network cable, before the packet has even transitioned into the buffer/ stack of the existing network card.

  8. Dumb ASP
    Alien

    "You are putting an alien technology into a very mature system.

    I knew it!!!!!!!!!!

    MS is really an Alien race subtly trying to take over the world one computer at a time.

    Let me get my coat and hat, the shiny foil ones...

  9. erhumdm

    Watched the Ignite Keynote last night from SatNad - discussion on FGPA certainly looked pretty interesting (but then they would make it so).

  10. boardbonobo

    It'll all be fun and games when the first one gets compromised by a state player and all those FPGAs starting chatting to each other. I guess it'll add a certain ironic finality to the definition of a computer 'virus'.

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