SAN JOSE, Calif. Ė Startup Calxeda announced a 32-bit ARM-based server processor it will sample this year. It will arrive about nine months ahead of X-Gene, a 64-bit ARM server SoC announced last week by Applied Micro Circuits Corp.
Hewlett-Packard will use the Calxeda chips in a development system for customers and partners to test. HP stopped short of announcing actual products using the chips, and said it will build development systems for other low power ARM- and x86-based processors, too.
The Calxeda plans, leaked last week, fuel growing interest in ARM-based servers as an energy efficient alternative to the x86 that dominates servers. Marvell was one of the first companies to launch an ARM-server chip, a 32-bit quad-core part similar to the Calxeda design, but it has not gained market traction to date.
Calxeda's so-called EnergyCore will come in versions with two and four Cortex A9 cores running at 1.1 to 1.4 GHz and sharing 4 Mbytes L2 cache. The chip includes an 80 Gbit/s fabric switch capable of supporting 4,096 nodes.
The EnergyCore supports up to five 10 Gbit/s ports. The SoC includes up to three 10 Gbit/s Ethernet MACs, four PCI Express Gen 2 links and five 3 Gbit/s serial ATA interfaces. It also includes an ARM M3 core to run server management software and supervise power management tasks.
The Calxeda device delivers about two-thirds to two-fifths the performance of a Westmere-class Intel Xeon 5620 four-core server processor, depending on the targeted application, said Karl Freund, vice president of marketing for Calxeda.
About six OEMs are working with a slim four-chip adapter card Calxeda created as a reference design. At least one of them plans to take the card into production as a product, Freund said.
Calxeda is not commenting on its road map. However Freund did say the company will be an early adopter of ARM's 64-bit V8 core. It has not taken an ARM architectural license and likely will use ARM's 64-core core, differentiating itself with an SoC design.
The startup has taken a total of $48 million in funding to date. It plans to have its chip in production in the early part of the second half of 2012.
Calxeda's EneryCore packs four Cortex A9 processors.