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Calxeda is getting investors excited about powering servers in data centers with ARM processors to save power and money.
We’ve highlighted before on this blog the growing trend to outfit servers with ARM processors. The idea is gaining more and more traction, and not just from interested researchers, but from actual investors and manufacturers. Chip maker Calxeda recently received $55 million USD to create server chips that draw low-power, thanks to underlying ARM processors.
Specifically, Calxeda makes a chip called EnergyCore that uses a low-power ARM processor. The company put these chips in prototype servers for Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Not only do ARM processors consume less power, they can also deliver faster responses to network requests, when used in high volume. More and more it seems like ARM processors are the way that many popular social sites will be headed for their server needs.
Before the big investment, Calxeda was already selling its chip commercially in the Viridis server from Boston Ltd. That particular model could use up to forty-eight Calxeda chips (192 ARM cores), and each Calxeda chip can use as few as five watts of power.
For the unfamiliar, ARM processors are predominately used in mobile devices like tablets and phones right now. Most servers today use x86 chips from Intel and AMD. Intel has begun to offer a low-power Atom chip for servers, and will be launching a new line of Atom chips to further compete with ARM’s low-power chip offering.
Calxeda is privately held and has gotten as much as $100 million USD in investments since it started four years ago. There are over 100 Calxeda employees working in the United States and in Asia. Some predict that by as early as 2014 ARM servers could be a major and viable option in data centers. Currently HP and Dell offer ARM servers in their laboratories, so customers can test them and see how they function. At the moment, ARM processors are only 32-bit, but Calxeda has announced a 64-bit architecture coming in the future. As always, the key to success and adoption will be getting developers on board to write software for new ARM processors.
To read more about ARM processors, check out our blog post about Dell’s work with them and its fight to be on the cutting edge of ARM servers.