A Sneak Peek At Calxeda’s ARM-Based Servers

Calxeda CEO Barry Evans

Calxeda, the company building servers out of clusters of cell phone chips in order to optimize power efficiency, has briefed analysts about its upcoming products and the results look compelling according to Forrester analyst Richard Fichera. In a blog after a briefing Fichera writes that Calxeda is a contender and that data center operators should consider adding ARM-based servers to their strategic technology plans. That’s a pretty ringing endorsement.


So what is the Calxeda box packing? The Calxeda system on a chip uses an ARM Cortex A9 quad-core and server manufactures can jam 120 ARM quad-core nodes (480 cores) in a 2U enclosure, with an average consumption of about 5 Watts per node. That power consumption includes DRAM. In comparison, Intel and AMD boxes using the x86 architecture can consume about 80 to 130 watts for a quad-core machine, while low-power versions of x86 chips can consume 30 watts. Calxeda is keeping its networking fabric details under wraps at the moment. Fichera adds:

Most significantly for prospective users, Calxeda is claiming, and has some convincing models to back up these claims, that they will provide a performance advantage of 5X – 10X the performance/Watt and (even higher when price is factored in for a metric of performance/Watt/$) of any products they expect to see when they bring the product to market.

Calxeda’s mum on release plans, but it looks like I won’t be the only person eager to see what they have to offer. For another startup building out dense low power servers, check out the specs on SeaMicro’s coming second generation server.