Annual Report and Accounts 2010

Calxeda

Barry Evans, CEO of Calxeda, on how they are utilising ARM’s processor and physical IP to create low-power chips for server applications

Calxeda, formerly Smooth-stone, Inc., was founded in early 2008 to develop a new generation of low-power processors for web and cloud-computing markets, combining clusters of ARM Cortex-A9 processors optimised with ARM’s physical IP to enable power efficient servers.

The operating costs of a data centre are increasingly driven by the energy costs from both running and cooling the server systems. Reducing power consumption in the server chips will therefore improve the P&L of a data centre or a company with a large IT department. Also, as consumers and governments desire to reduce overall carbon emissions, every website hosting company will want to demonstrate that they are working to reduce their carbon footprint. It is still early days for Calxeda, but we believe that our technology can enable systems with a throughput-performance/watt that has never before been possible, reducing processor energy consumption by as much as tenfold.

We chose to develop Calxeda chips around ARM technology as their designs are inherently low-power, both when running at peak performance and also when idle. The ARM Cortex-A9 processor, with its scalable multiprocessor capability, provides the high-performance needed in a server application. Combining Cortex-A9 with ARM’s physical IP maximises the performance without compromising the processor’s low-power characteristics. ARM’s rich ecosystem of software tools, application software and operating systems will provide much of the software that Calxeda will need to get a server to market. This software includes open-source software such as Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl and Python, which are together known as LAMP-stack software.

Several OEMs are currently designing servers based on Calxeda’s technology and we hope that the first lower-power servers may be commercially available by 2013.

Calxeda is supported and funded by ARM and Texas Instruments, along with a number of venture capital firms. See available for sale assets in note 13 to the accounts for details of all of ARM’s long-term investments.

Energy use by scenario

“We believe that our technology can enable systems with a throughput-performance/watt that has never before been possible, reducing processor energy consumption by as much as tenfold”.