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Microsoft's Arm-based Azure VMs are ready to roll

Microsoft is making VMs support Ampere Altra Arm processors generally available starting September 1.
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Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on
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Credit: ZDNet

In April, Microsoft announced a preview of Arm support on Azure virtual machines. Today, August 29, officials said these Arm-based VMs on Azure would be generally available this week, starting September 1.

Microsoft brought Arm to Azure VMs via its work with Ampere Computing, a startup that makes server chips. Ampere announced in 2021 that Microsoft and Tencent Holdings were both onboard as customers.

Amazon Web Services has been offering Arm-based VMs for several years. Google announced in July that it plans to do the same, also in conjunction with Ampere. 

Azure VMs with Ampere Altra Arm processors will be available in 10 Azure regions and multiple availability zones around the world. They will be available in the US (West US2, West Central US, Central US, East US, East US 2); Europe (West Europe, North Europe); Asia (East Asia, Southeast Asia) and Australia (Australia East), with more regions to come after September 1. The Arm-based VMs can be included in Kubernetes clusters managed using Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

Microsoft officials said "hundreds" of customers have been testing the Azure VMs built on Altra since April. They have used them for web and application servers, open-source databases, microservices, Java and .NET apps, gaming, media servers, and more.

The new Azure Arm-based VM families include

  • Dpsv5 series, with up to 64 vCPUs and 4GiBs of memory per vCPU up to 208 GiBs,
  • Dplsv5 series, with up to 64 vCPUs and 2GiBs of memory per vCPU up to 128 GiBs, and
  • Epsv5 series, with up to 32 vCPUs and 8GiBs of memory per vCPU up to 208 GiBs

The Azure VMs on Arm are meant to run Windows 11 Professional and Enterprise on Arm. They also support a variety of Linux OS distributions, including Canonical Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and Debian. Microsoft is planning to add support for Alma Linux and Rocky Linux in the future.

Microsoft still has not said that it plans to support Windows Server on Arm other than for its internal use. In 2020, Microsoft officially announced that it has been working with Intel, AMD, and two ARM vendors (Qualcomm and Cavium) to support Project Olympus, Microsoft's next-generation cloud-hardware design provided to the Open Compute Project. Microsoft also announced that it has been involved with multiple ARM suppliers, including Qualcomm and Cavium on getting Windows Server to run ARM for its own internal data center use only.

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