Calxeda Unveils World’s First ARM-Based Server Microprocessor

Calxeda Announces EnergyCore ARM Cortex-A9 Server Chip

by Anton Shilov
11/01/2011 | 02:36 PM

Calxeda, a startup developing server microprocessors based on ARM architecture, on Tuesday introduced the world’s first chip aimed at servers powered by Cortex-A9 technology. The central processing unit is mostly designed to enable software developers to design server-class programs for ARM architecture, but those owners of data centers who would like to cut their power consumption will also be able to deploy them.


Calxeda EnergyCore system-on-chip incorporates four ARM Cortex-A9 cores as well as  a supercomputing-class 80-Gigabit fabric switch and an integrated management engine with power optimization software, all on a single piece of silicon. The EnergyCore SoC also includes a full complement of server I/O features and a large 4MB ECC L2 cache, enabling system vendors, Calxeda’s customers, to offer a complete server node that consumes only 5W, including 4GB of ECC memory and a large capacity SSD.

“All the stars are in alignment:  Web 2.0 data-driven businesses, cloud computing, open source portable software, power consumption at crisis levels and the emergence of server-class performance of ARM processors. We believe a new era of energy-efficient servers is now dawning for scale-out workloads, and today we are introducing the foundational architecture that will enable this breakthrough.  While we are proud to launch our Calxeda EnergyCore processors, we are even more thrilled with the many partners who are joining us on this journey,” said Barry Evans, CEO and co-founder of Calxeda.

The EnergyCore ARM-based SoC launched today will power a completely new breed of servers.  Thanks to its mobile phone heritage and patent-pending innovations from Calxeda, the new processor consumes less than one tenth the power of today’s most energy efficient server processors and is ideal for workloads such as web serving, “Big Data” applications, scalable analytics such as Apache Hadoop, media streaming and mid-tier infrastructure such as caching and in-memory scalable databases, according to Calxeda.

HP has designed a system containing 288 Calxeda servers in a single 7” (4U) chassis. The single rack of HP’s Calxeda servers delivers the throughput of some 700 traditional servers and dramatically simplifies the infrastructure needed to hook them all together and manage the cluster. At present, the machines are aimed at developers, but HP can potentially sell them as well to interested parties.

“Companies in our industry are constrained by space and power, yet our appetite for analysis is insatiable. We need a 10X breakthrough and this could be it.  We are evaluating the Calxeda technology in hyperscale throughput computing for data and simulation intensive applications.  The Calxeda Linux platform enables rapid porting of our software, enabling us to quickly leverage the energy-efficient ARM cores and Calxeda's scalable communications fabric to scale our applications to new heights,” said Niall Dalton, director of high frequency trading at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Calxeda chips are available now for evaluation. Commercial availability expected in the middle of 2012.