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Calxeda Ends ARM Server Bid

12/19/2013 08:15 PM EST
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rick merritt
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Storage controllers, etc
rick merritt   12/19/2013 8:57:07 PM
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Are you seeing any significant market for 32-bit ARM server SoCs?

DMcCunney
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Re: Storage controllers, etc
DMcCunney   12/19/2013 11:19:16 PM
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Are you seeing any significant market for 32-bit ARM server SoCs?


Where would such a market be?  The nature of what servers do will place a premium on address space.  The vastly greater address space possible in 64 bit architectures will make them preferable for most server tasks I can imagine,


I'd call Calxeda's 32 bit offerings proof-of-concept, demonstrating performance in a ballpark with comparable X86 chips but greater power efficiency.  It would all have been well had ARM had 64 bit CPUs available in a shorter time frame.


They didn't, and it killed Calxeda.  Investors were unwilling to provide further capital to keep Calxeda going.  It would lengthen the payback period and increase their risk.  Calxeda would need to establish a clear leadership in the 64 bit ARM server market, grow rapidly, and ship a lot of silicon, and do so in the face of competition from bigger, better heeled vendors looking to play in the same space.  The folks providing the funding would see a better bet in cutting their losses on Calxeda, and investing in someone else when ARM actually had 64 bit designs ready to turn into chips.


I might use a 32 bit ARM chip as something like a peripheral controller in a server, but I wouldn't use if for a CPU, and CPUs are the point of this exercise.


junko.yoshida
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Emerging market?
junko.yoshida   12/20/2013 7:07:15 AM
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Rick, you wrote: Calxeda could not hold on until the emerging market becomes large enough to sustain it. It's true. And I imagine that "emerging market" also includes geographically emerging market such as China. I remember earlier this year, I bumped into a group of Calxeda's senior executives including its CEO, in a hotel in Beijing. It was clear that the startup had high hopes for a growing number of Internet-based service companies in China to embrace Calxeda's solution based on ARM 32-bit cores. But again, that market probably didn't grow fast enough for the startup to hang its hat on.

zewde yeraswork
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64-bit
zewde yeraswork   12/20/2013 9:00:40 AM
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It's funny, with 320bit core architectures attracting less-than-stellar demand, the pressure on all those 64-bit ARM-based SOCs scheduled to ship next year and beyond mounts. Calxeda had a lot of ambition in this market and I for one am surprised to hear of this announcement. Nonetheless, the staikes remain high in this new segment--there could be a lot to gain but its a matter of biding one's time properly which Calxeda was not able to do.

goafrit
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Re: Storage controllers, etc
goafrit   12/20/2013 11:38:34 AM
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>> Calxeda, a maker of ARM-based server SoCs, said it will close its doors. 

This company might have sold its business or got acquired than just closing doors. I felt they had some really great business model out there. It is always hard to disrupt hardware business as you need to have a lot of funds to do that.

KB3001
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Re: 64-bit
KB3001   12/20/2013 12:01:43 PM
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Indeed it is a question of timing, the trend for more ARM based servers will continue. The software ecosystem needs a bit more time but it will happen.

rick merritt
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Re: Emerging market?
rick merritt   12/20/2013 12:19:22 PM
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@Junko: Yes I remember your writing about Calxeda after your chance encounter in China
2013-04-01Yoshida in China: What's Calxeda doing here?
Marvell snagged headlines when it got a design win for a 32-bit ARM SoC in a storage controller at Baidu. I'd love more insights into the data center operators and any emerging vendors in China.


rick merritt
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Re: Storage controllers, etc
rick merritt   12/20/2013 12:20:37 PM
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@Goafrit. Indeed my "close the doors" language could be misleading.

The comnpoany just said "restructuring" which implies there could be a sale of its assets or some other outcome TBD.

rick merritt
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Re: Storage controllers, etc
rick merritt   12/20/2013 12:24:21 PM
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@DMcCunney: Good analysis!

It would be interesting to hear the story of how ARM came to grips with the 64-bit decision and how Calexeda (behind the curve) and Applied Micro (on the curve) heard about the plan.

If anyone can share some details of that story, please do in comments here or to me directly!

DMcCunney
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Re: Storage controllers, etc
DMcCunney   12/20/2013 1:23:32 PM
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@Goafrit. Indeed my "close the doors" language could be misleading.

The comnpoany just said "restructuring" which implies there could be a sale of its assets or some other outcome TBD.


An asset sale is one possibility.  An acquisition is another.  There's enough interest in 64 bit ARM servers that I can see another vendor buying Calxeda.  If I'm a player in the server space, and I want to offer 64 bit ARM based solutions, what do I do?  Do I build the capability from scratch, or do I look at acquiring someone who has already done it?


While Calxeda's existing products are 32 bit, you can assume a fair amount of engineering on the HW and SW sides that went into them will be applicable to 64 bit products as well,   I can see an outside interest in both Calxeda's IP, and its staff.


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