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Microsoft CPUs are coming and they will be made by Intel

Intel has announced that Microsoft will be one of the first companies to use its foundries to manufacture custom design processors.

An Intel LGA 1700 CPU, with a Microsoft logo superimposed on its IHS

Announced during its Intel Foundry event, Intel will be using some capacity at its foundries to manufacture Microsoft CPUs. While this kind of practice is common for competitors like TSMC, this deal marks the beginning of a significant shift in how Intel operates and could help stage something of a comeback for the company.

It’s no secret that Intel has struggled to maintain the lead it enjoyed for many years in the race to craft the best gaming CPU, despite the welcome change in pace following the advent of Alder Lake processors. Even then, however, the most recent launch of 14th Gen Core chips has understandably knocked some wind out of its sails, with the likes of the i5 14600K proving to be little more than a minor clock speed bump over previous generations.

This partnership with Microsoft likely won’t result in Intel creating competition for its upcoming Core Ultra desktop processors, but it should help line the company’s pockets to invest more heavily in more advanced manufacturing processes. This, naturally, should lead to more performant gaming CPUs in the years to come.

During Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger’s keynote, Microsoft chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella said:

“We are in the midst of a very exciting platform shift that will fundamentally transform productivity for every individual organization and the entire industry. To achieve this vision, we need a reliable supply of the most advanced, high-performance and high-quality semiconductors. That’s why we are so excited to work with Intel Foundry, and why we have chosen a chip design that we plan to produce on Intel 18A process.”

Little is known about the chip design but there are a number of markets that Microsoft could choose to deploy its Intel-made CPU in. The most likely would be in its servers, used to power all manner of Windows and Xbox services.

However, it’s possible we could see this shiny new silicon appear in Surface devices or, potentially, an Xbox device. This would see Microsoft adopt a strategy much more similar to Apple, who has been successful in employing its own custom ARM-based CPUs and GPUs in its various phones, tablets, laptops and PCs.

We don’t yet know when these Microsoft processors will see the light of day, whether it’s on a store shelf for consumers or as part of a B2B channel, but its Intel 18A process is scheduled to be manufacturing ready in 2H 2024. So, we could reasonably be looking at a 2025 launch if all goes well. You can check out the full press release here.

Check out our Core i9 14900K review to learn more about the most powerful desktop gaming processor Intel currently has in its arsenal. Alternatively, you could save a chunk of change and opt for an AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D instead.