ARM server startup beefs up ranks


ARM server startup beefs up ranks

Rick Merritt

11/15/2010 3:02 PM EST

ARM-based server chip designer Smooth-stone has changed its name to Calxeda, hired three new executives and moved into a bigger Austin office.


SAN JOSE, Calif. – ARM-based server chip designer Smooth-stone has changed its name to Calxeda, hired three new executives and moved into bigger Austin, Texas, office. However, the company is still keeping secret the details of its multicore Cortex A9 system-on-chip set to sample in 2011.

The processor’s interconnect fabric “will be key,” to the design, said Karl Freund, former head of marketing for IBM’s mainframe group who just joined the startup as its vice president of marketing.

Calxeda also hired Bob Baughman, previously with Polycom and Marvell, as the startup’s vice president of business development and sales, and Steve Beatty from Freescale and SigmaTel as vice president of manufacturing. The company has also added to its engineering team bringing its total size to about 32 people.

The startup has laid out its SoC but it has yet to see first silicon. It is conducting tests based on FPGAs and plans limited sampling and system prototyping in 2011 with expectations of production silicon in 2012.

Calxeda claims its chips will deliver similar performance of some Intel server processors at half their price and ten times their power efficiency. They aim at Web servers and large Internet data centers and content distribution systems limited by available power.

Using a Cortex A9, Calxeda will be limited to four cores per die, so will likely use multiple chips to hit performance levels of Intel’s Xeon processors. But the startup will provide no details on its interconnect or other blocks it plans to integrate.

“We see this as highly scalable to large clusters with hundreds and eventually thousands of processors,” said Freund.

Also, because of their use of Cortex A9, the chips will be limited to 32-bit applications.

“We see it fitting in Web servers and medium-to-large scale search systems, and we think it could be excellent for Hadoop,” said Freund, referring to Yahoo’s open source version of Google’s MapReduce search indexing algorithm.

Last week, Marvell formally launched its Armada EX processor, a quad-core ARM SoC aimed at Web servers and a wide range of networking systems. Calxeda recently closed a$48 million round of venture financing.

Calxeda changed its name to avoid a conflict with another technology company under the name Smooth Stone. Calxeda means smooth stone in Latin, a reference to the rocks used by David to defeat the giant Goliath.




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