Smooth-Stone Gets New Name; Promises 10x Efficiency Gains

Smooth-Stone, the company building servers using chips found in today’s cell phones changed its name to Calxeda, hired some executives and made one of the first public statements about what it plans to deliver in terms of energy efficiency for the data center: a 10x improvement. Calxeda is building servers using chips based on the ARM (s armh) architecture as opposed to the x86-based chips sold by Intel (s intc) and AMD (s AMD). Marvell (s mrvl) is also using the ARM architecture for servers. We’ve covered Calxeda for a while and have spoken with Barry Evans, CEO of the firm, who told me back in April that his company was out to deliver a Power Usage Effectiveness, or PUE, of zero for data centers.

PUE measures how efficiently a data center can generate a unit of computing based on its power intake. Generally, a PUE of 1 is excellent, while a PUE of 2 is not so good. So while Evans wouldn’t say more today other than promising ten times the energy efficiency that’s standard today, it’s the first time he’s put a firm number out there. However, so far, he hasn’t shared exactly how Calxeda plans to achieve this, beyond using ARM-based chips and likely a specialized chip inside the server to help handle the networking and the allocation of workloads across multiple ARM-based processors. From the release:

“We believe the solution requires this order of magnitude improvement, literally ten times the energy efficiency, for half the price,” said Calxeda CEO, Barry Evans. “This is within our reach with technologies we are developing at Calxeda. The response from customers and technology partners validates that we are onto something big. The talented individuals joining our team, as announced today, provide further validation.”

The name change is some bastardized Latin translation of Smooth-Stone, but came about in part because CEO Barry Evans realized having a hyphen in the Smooth-Stone domain was problematic, especially since folks visiting the site on an iPad (s aapl) found typing one so difficult. The new executives come from big name companies, which should help the company gain credibility as it moves closer to launching its product and trying to woo customers. Apparently, the launch is set for some time in 2011. Here are the new hires:

  • Karl Freund, formerly of IBM (s IBM) and Hewlett-Packard (s HPQ), as VP of marketing
  • Bob Baughman, previously with Polycom (s PLCM) and Marvell, as VP of business development and sales
  • Steve Beatty, VP of manufacturing, brings his experience from Freescale (s FSLB) and SigmaTel (s SGTL).

Calxeda was founded in 2008, and has received $48 million in funding from ARM, Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), Battery Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, Highland Capital Partners and Texas Instruments Inc. (s txn).

For more research on green data centers check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):