ARM Powered servers designed by Calxeda could be 10x more efficient than Intel

Posted by Charbax – March 14, 2011

Calxeda Inc, formerly known as Smooth-Stone, is the new company formed by ARM Holdings, Texas Instruments, ATIC (same invesors as in GlobalFoundries and AMD) and others that have provided at least $48 Million in investment to set it up. They are optimizing the designs for ARM Powered servers to be implemented by Server OEM partners around the world. As reported by Forrester Research's Richard Fichera:

While still holding their actual delivery dates and details of specifications close to their vest, Calxeda did reveal the following cards from their hand:

  • The first reference design, which will be provided to OEM partners as well as delivered directly to selected end users and developers, will be based on an ARM Cortex A9 quad-core SOC design.
  • The SOC, as Calxeda will demonstrate with one of its reference designs, will enable OEMs to design servers as dense as 120 ARM quad-core nodes (480 cores) in a 2U enclosure, with an average consumption of about 5 watts per node (1.25 watts per core) including DRAM.
  • While not forthcoming with details about the performance, topology or protocols, the SOC will contain an embedded fabric for the individual quad-core SOC servers to communicate with each other.
  • 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 to 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.

ARM Powered servers could have 5X to 10X the performance/watt compared to Intel's x86.

As you can read on Calxeda's website, the operating expense associated with power and cooling now dominates a server’s cost of ownership, and will eclipse the hardware itself by a factor of 7X in 2012. IDC reports that all servers worldwide consumed $44.5 Billion of electricity in 2010 and require ten additional Gigawatt power plants to be constructed.

  • Anonymous

    ARM-powered servers would be a break of x86 processor model for servers and would be the same total concept for servers as Wintel is for PC-market today.Because mostly servers use Linux today.
    Just think Calxeda Inc. with ARM-powered processors and maybe together with forthcoming DFG-FET memory as researchers at North Carolina State University announced for three weeks ago.
    The DFG-FET is a both non-volatile and volatile memory in same device, where DFG=Double Floating Gate-FET which would be an solid memory which could start computers instantly och turn them of just instantly to.Insanely fast memories could these DFG-FET solid memories be and think how power effcient they would be?

  • so it begins 😀

  • Anonymous

    But the MRAM memories have still not become dense as nand Flashmemories.
    1MB memory is very small, HP Memristor memory shall be double dense as todays nand Flashmemories
    say HP,anyway, HP in cowork with southkorean Hynix where Hynix will start making the Memristor components in 2013.
    Japanese Elpida have before announced that they shall start massmaking their ReRAM memory also in 2013.The Memristor memory from HP-Hynix is also a ReRAM memory.
    The Memristor memory is very similar to well knowned PRAM or PCM memories
    but will not use rare earth metal compounds.Intel-Hynix-Samsung development of PRAM or PCM memories in the company Numonyx will use this rare earth metals as we use today in CD-RW,DVD-RW discs.But this rare compounds metals are to rare for massproduction to challenge nand Flashmemories.

  • im in agreement with you mostly, the key points im eager for improving ASAP,especially as they are now opening up new markets for the quad core ARM cortex and soon at 2GHz for servers/desktop etc, are the reasons you see so called ‘slow memory bandwidth’ in some arm devices app’s such as “web browsing with multiple tabs” today is simply that the ram they use is clocked slower as in reduced freq by under clocking its full potential to reduce power usage , nothing else.

    with MRAM today you remove/improve that speed bottleneck, indeed massively increase the data throughout compared to current under clocked LP DRAM and reduce power usage as a bonus.

    im not clear on your DFG=Double Floating Gate-FET advantage over MRAM as regards bandwidth speed data throughput in the future or the other’s mentioned , if they are indeed faster at the given bus width , the new 512 width would be nice in any new ARM server chip to popularise it’s use and uptake everywhere else OC as well as instantly gain its lower (75% less power usage than it is now i think!) power saving’s.

    2013 is a long way away in ARM server and other quad use term’s today, the point im making is MRAM exists today, so use it, then later if these other things pan out also include them in the newer design’s at whatever level, internal or external to the SOC as as new buffer/bus/crossbar etc to external D2 and/or D3 to lower Dram/flash etc…

    i dont have the time right now to find you direct links but i also read elsewhere recently that they alsp do 4MB and 16MB MRAM packages now, for the future there’s also the 2Gbit/s Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) process to include for mass production later see

  • Hey guys, if you are interested in getting an editor account to post new posts here on this site, contact me it’d be great if you would like to share some of your insights and opinions in new opinion pieces or post news items whenever you hear about news that you think is most interesting/important in this ARM Powered industry. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Could you also investigate in digital power?
    ARM power efficient processors in forthcoming servers is not the only component which need to be extreme power sufficient for making a server super energy efficient.
    Rectifiers for AC/DC conversion needs also to be more energy efficient than today transformation of electricity.
    Google initiative which Intel now is a part of, the Climatesaverscomputing. is only one of some technologies for making the transformation much more energy efficient with much less of heat which toady must be cooling with a fan in servers.

    A small swedish (Yes, I´m a swede) company Seps have devoloped a very power efficient AC/DC rectifier where the power transistors is on SiC aka Silicon Carbide substrate.

  • Anonymous

    If MRAM-memories shall be a competing tech to nand Flashmemories MRAM must have a dense of at least some GBytes.

    Do you know something about if MRAM can be stacked?

    I beliave that HP Memristor is awesome because the tech is so simply.
    Here a 6-minute memristor guide:
    From the head researcher of Memristor at HP.

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  • I’m a big fan of ARM tech.

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