Calxeda releases ARM based server chip

Calxeda has released a new server chip which is the first shot in what will be a long war between ARM and Intel for the hearts and minds of the corporate market.

The EnergyCore is an integrated server chip with an ARM processor and it will be used in Hewlett-Packard’s first ARM server design as part of HP’s Redstone Server Development Platform. We are expecting to see servers based on the design in the first half of next year.

The quad-core chip consumes as little as 1.5 watts of power. HP’s has been creating ARM-based server design based around 288 Calxeda chips tucked into a 4U rack-mount server with shared power, cooling and management infrastructure.

Karl Freund, vice president of marketing at Calxeda told PC World that the EnergyCore is a single chip with a Cortex-A9 ARM processor. It can manage 1.1GHz and 1.4GHz with the wind behind it and if it is going downhill. The chip has 4MB of cache, an 80-Gigabit fabric switch and a power management system.

What is the selling point is the low-power requirements. Part of this is managed by using a lower powered ARM processor and integrating key server components.

ARM has hardly any presence in the server market, but the low power angle is attracting interest. The only weakness is that it remains to be seen if the processorshave the raw performance and reliability of traditional server chips. But the release of the ARM server does fill a hole which AMD and Intel have been slow to fill.

Fortunately the fact that ARM can only manage 32-bit, for now. ARM only announced its new ARMv8 architecture, which could bring the first 64-bit ARM processors last week. This means that AMD and Intel have time to get a low powered server chip into place which they appear to be doing.