Microsoft Bets Its Future on a Reprogrammable Computer Chip

Prototype hardware for Project Catapult, a six-year effort to rebuild Microsoft’s online empire for the next wave of AI—and more. Clayton Cotterell for WIREDIt was December 2012, and Doug Burger was standing in front of Steve Ballmer, trying to predict the future. Ballmer, the big, bald, boisterous CEO of Microsoft, sat in the lecture room on the ground floor of Building 99, home base for the company’s blue-sky R&D lab just outside Seattle. The tables curved around the outside of the room in a U-shape, and Ballmer was surrounded by his top lieutenants, his laptop open. Burger, a computer chip researcher who had joined the company four years earlier, was pitching a new idea to the execs. He called it Project Catapult. Doug Burger. Clayton Cotterell for WIREDThe tech world,…

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