SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Startup Calxeda (Austin) has released a few details about its unannounced ARM-based processor aimed at low power servers.
Calxeda's initial reference design will be based on a quad-core Cortex A9 SoC that consumes 5W including associated DRAM. The chip includes a fabric that acts as an interconnect to other processors, enabling OEMs to pack as many as 120 SoCs in a 2U-sized chassis.
The chip aims to deliver a 5-10x performance advantage and a 15-20x price/performance advantage over traditional server processors. Calxeda also downplayed frequency as a measure of performance, suggesting the chip will run at a relatively low clock rate.
The company said it "will be open for proof of concept proposals this fall," but did not say when it will sample its chips. The startup is behind at least two other companies addressing the market for low power processors, chiefly aimed at large data centers.
Marvell's Armada XL is a 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex SoC consuming up to 10W and already in test systems at top tier data center customers. Startup Tilera's 64-core, 32-bit processor using a custom architecture not based on ARM is currently shipping, and the company has promised a 100-core, 64-bit version for later this year.
A growing group of data centers, OEMs and chip makers have expressed interest in using non-x86 processors to lower server power. The x86 camp has responded to the trend, too.
Startup SeaMicro recently updated its server using 512 Intel's Atom CPUs to a new version of the chip. Intel itself has designed streamlined x86 boards to act as low power server nodes and is expected to announce news about its so-called micro-server efforts next week.
One sever maker recently debuted a system using a dual-core ARM chip from STMicroelectronics.
ARM rolled out its A15 core last fall with enhanced memory support for servers and networking gear. However, the company has not described plans for a 64-bit core yet.