The new FGPA technology is a highly specialized computer chip that can be custom programmed for highly demanding cloud based applications as described below:

One of Microsoft’s major announcements this week at Ignite, the Redmond company’s annual information technology worker conference, was essentially a better supercomputer.  Burger, in a simulated demo on Monday, showed how field programmable gate arrays (FGPAs), a type of computer chip that can be reprogrammed for specific tasks after they leave the factory floor, were adding firepower to Microsoft’s network of on-demand computing power.

Using all of the power of Microsoft’s data centers worldwide, the company could translate all 5 million articles on the English language Wikipedia in less than a tenth of a second. The company during the past two years has quietly been installing FGPAs on the new servers Microsoft added to its global fleet of data centers. They’re currently helping to rank results in the Bing search engine and speed the performance of Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing network.

Microsoft is alone among major cloud-computing players in widely deploying FPGA technology, Burger said, though Chinese search giant Baidu is experimenting with FPGA-powered machine-learning applications, and IBM and Oracle have used the devices on a smaller scale.