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Microsoft Tests Specialized Chips for Increased Search Speed

The speed of search results and page loads is increasingly becoming a very important component of doing business on the Web.

According to an article in PCWorld, Microsoft recently submitted a paper at the Hot Chips academic conference that described a solution for improving load speed.

The new board Microsoft developed, dubbed “Catapult,” contains a specialized reprogrammable chip aimed at solving the problem of slow search result loading.

And, after testing the new chip, Microsoft announced it will begin testing the new technology on all Bing servers in one data center beginning in 2015, PCWorld reports.

Understanding the Complexity of the Situation

Search algorithms are constantly evolving. What may have worked one month is irrelevant the next.

And before landing on Catapult, Microsoft’s team tested many different options, which either complicated server design or quickly become inefficient.

Catapult was built to fit within Microsoft’s Open Computer server, which wouldn’t require the level of development necessary with many other options.

What Were the Test Results?

Microsoft began by testing 1,632 servers in one data center. By testing the new cards, it discovered:

  • Accelerated scoring of documents for relevance in Bing;
  • Search throughput saw a 2X improvement;
  • Latency delay was decreased by 29 percent;
  • And the number of servers needed to facilitate consumers was cut in half.


At the end of the day, consumers don’t care why search is faster, just that it is. The solution Microsoft has developed creates a streamlined experience. And consumers will begin noticing results load faster without having to jump through a lot of hoops to get there.

Image credit: PCWorld.

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