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

Posted by – 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.

Top-6 Embedded World 2011 videos

Posted by – March 14, 2011

On the 3rd of March, I jumped on a train from CeBIT Hannover to Embedded World in Nurnberg, so that I could try to interview the representatives of some of the cool ARM Powered devices shown there. I managed to film 15 videos during that day at Embedded World, here are my top-6 best videos:

1. Worlds first Samsung Exynos 4210 ARM Cortex-A9 tablet presented by Hard Kernel, it’s just awesome to see this $750 dev-kit transparent Tablet design, allowing to see through all the awesome hardware features of this platform.

2. Worlds most compact Tegra2 PC presented by Toradex, the potential is a $150 ARM Cortex-A9 Powered desktop PC, with dual-screen output (one HDMI, one VGA), USB host ports, Ethernet, audio input/outputs and more. It’s cool!

3. $200 Tegra2 slim PC by Trim Slice Compulab, yet another cool looking Tegra2 powered super compact desktop PC, this one may actually seem to be more finalized than the Toradex, in terms of software and in terms of cheap motherboard design availability, though it’s to be seen once it gets released what the status for software and hardware pricing will be then.

4. 4K2K video playback on the new Texas Instruments DaVinci DM816x and DM814x, the powers of Texas Instruments DaVinci ties in with what they do with OMAP, the DaVinci perhaps targetting more video-centric uses such as potentially one of the next $100 ARM Powered Google TV set-top-boxes. 4K2K ARM Powered Google TV at $100 retail would be awesome. Until then, the OMAP4 stuff is not yet in these DaVinci and the video stuff is not yet in OMAP4, but those are merging their powers.

5. Seco shows x86-ARM Cross Platform, they work on making it easy for the industry to get away from using x86 and to use ARM solutions instead. They support OMAP4, Tegra2, OMAP3 and i.MX51 designs among others. It becomes as easy as swapping the one for the other, all other aspects of the design, even the software being interoperable.

6. QNX talks about their software on the Blackberry Playbook, still no confirmation if Blackberry will choose to install a Dalvik Engine on top of this to support Android apps in there, but it’s sure interesting to try to understand how QNX does it to utilize the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 Texas Instruments OMAP4430 processor to its fullest to provide the smoothest UI and multi-tasking.

Apple’s manufactured scarcity, free publicity, playing for the analysts

Posted by – March 12, 2011

The craze started at the release of iPhone1 in June 2007. I remember watching the live stream on Mogulus, predecesor to, it was filmed and broadcast by Max Haost, founder of and they were extremely hilarious in the way they would actually make fun of the people standing in line. I find this unbelievably hilarious, it’s the extreme example of the gadget-craze (out-of-control gadget consumerism?)

The ipad 2 line in Houston, TX as reported by Engadget.

Blame the analysts, unless they see lines, they think Apple isn’t selling any products.

This launch was engineered to generate lines (no pre-orders, 3 week waits if ordered on line…) and lots of free publicity…

Comment by Ghostbear1 in that Engadget article.

the scarcity principle is the mother of all marketing techniques (…) We generally perceive that things that are difficult to get are typically better than things that are easily available. If everyone wants it then it must be good right? This actually taps into the principle called social proof


Queuing up for a piece of gadget is a really weird concept. In theory, especially for Apple, those devices are mass produced in gigantic proportions in the biggest Chinese factories, somehow Apple would not be able to manufacture enough to sell to whomever would want one?

This whole lining up deal is a situation designed by Apple’s viral marketing department.

This carefully choreographed gadget marketing/pricing ballet has turned Apple into the second largest company in the world, just 3 and a half years after the release of the iPhone. It’s really insane if you think about it. If not for the largest oil company in the world Exxon Mobile, Apple would be the largest company in the world, and most of Apple’s current profits and revenues come from their ARM Powered iOS devices, especially the iPhone.

So now Apple is doing a big push on the tablet market with iPad. And the iPad2 certainly has a nice Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor in there.

There are Android tablets like Archos 101 Internet Tablet released 6 months ago, that are lighter at 480gr vs 600gr, that have real mini-HDMI outputs built-in, real USB-host built-in, a real kick-stand built-in, and that still support more video and audio codecs (such as all DivX, MKV found on BitTorrents), with Flash support, real multi-tasking for 40% to 60% cheaper price than the ipad2.

In my opinion, Honeycomb is the first real Tablet OS. And I am pretty sure Honeycomb tablets will overtake iPad market share in less than a year, faster than Android overtook iPhone after the Nexus One release.

For some engineering resource/time allocation/prioritisation issues, Google chose not to allow much to happen with tablets with Donut, Eclair, Froyo and Gingerbread. Companies like Archos were left with the open source part of Android, doing the customizations they want, but for some strategic reason, they were left without the full support from Google. Google didn’t want Android Powered iPad and iPod Touch competitors to dominate the market in 2010. They thought they perhaps were busy enough dominating smartphone growth of that year, and gaining the full support by two dozen Smartphone makers in the process.

I think Google’s strategy is to simply let the Apple viral marketing people do their thing first, then get their better open and free software in gear, and riding on Apple’s viral marketing coat-tails, Google’s Android ecosystem can then provide the big push and rapidly dominate.

This is also a dance of technological disruption, and disruption of those disruptors. Google can’t be seen as encouraging the industrys too rapid change, while some companies bet their futures on the Open Handset Alliance, Google had to be careful and let the market move as fast as it can without hurting the feelings of the big partners who invest billions of dollars in this and want to see their investments safely recouped.

In any ways, look forward to the Android Honeycomb ecosystem taking care of making Android the top platform for tablets fast, and look forward to new designs to make tablets even more fun, more productive, and basically turn these gadgets into the user interface of the future of mobile computing for all the people of the world.

Top-15 CeBIT 2011 videos

Posted by – March 8, 2011

Here are my top-15 videos filmed at the CeBIT 2011 in Hannover Germany:

1. Interview with Peter Sunde, co-founder of and Flattr, we talk about politics of filesharing, the European Union, Scandinavia, Sweden’s prime minister (and Ikea), implementation of flattr as a Government policy, the influence of TV networks on democracy and more.

2. Worlds First Honeycomb Laptop, while I had seen the Asus Eee Pad Transformer a couple times at previous conferences. It was awesome to see it run Honeycomb for the first time. The idea of Honeycomb running on ARM Powered tablets is awesome. It would be best if those ARM Powered Honeycomb laptops were cheaper, thinner and lighter. But that will come too.

3. Microsoft and Open Source, an interview with the head of open source activities at Microsoft Germany, about the ways in which Microsoft is being more open towards open source. Does that mean Windows 8 for ARM will be open source and free?

4. Zinwell does ARM Powered $70 Android Set-top-box, Zinwell is one of the leading Realtek based media player makers and are now focusing on designing the ARM Powered set-top-box for Android and Google TV support and they need sufficient processor power to render full web browsing experiences as well as rich user interfaces, even gaming as well as all video codecs and streaming.

5. Asus Eee Pad Memo Tablet and MeMic Bluetooth Phone Remote, cool dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260 based 7″ Android tablet from Asus. It fits nicely in any jacker pocket, and can use a bluetooth remote for voice calls.

6. Yifang M707, Android Tablet with infrared pen input, a cool feature, adding infrared sensor to the side of tablets, to scan in real-time the scribbling on paper.

7. Kinstone $95 7″ ARM Cortex-A9 AmLogic (single core) Tablet, this could be the cheapest ARM Cortex-A9 tablet already, though this AmLogic is a single core design, performance should be great.

8. Shenzhen Ider shows $60 Android Cortex-A8 Set-top-box, one of the cheapest ARM Cortex-A8 set-top-boxes for Android and possibly Google TV that I have heard about.

9. Fun video at Shenzhen AUDE comparing x86 with ARM in tablet design, shows how the ARM Powered tablet is 3x lighter, 3x cheaper, 3x thinner than the design based on x86.

10. ARM Powered Tablets by Shuttle, Shuttle is building tablets (and soon Laptops/Desktops) based on ARM chips from Texas Instruments, Nvidia, VIA and others. Watch for their actual compact ARM Powered motherboards at the end of this video.

11. Gigabyte Tegra2 Tablet GN-TB100, Gigabyte is also joining the fun in making Android based tablets.

12. Mobile Tech shows Telechips 8803 ARM Cortex-A8 in new tablets, the new Telechips ARM Cortex-A8 processor is ready for speeding up low cost Android tablets.

13. My first Nintendo 3DS hands-on, it’s pretty awesome. Let’s hope 3D doesn’t hurt.

14. 3Gnet $70 Android Set-top-box, uses Skyviia ARM9 and they plan for a Ziilab ARM Cortex-A8 set-top-box for Android and possibly Google TV as well.

15. Netronix 9.7″ Freescale i.MX51 Android Tablet, same screen, same kind of performance as iPad1, but could retail at $250.

Nuvoton NuMicro Cortex-M0 MCU explained

Posted by – March 7, 2011

The NuMicro Family is Nuvoton’s new 32-bit Microcontroller product line shown at Embedded World 2011, based on the ARM Cortex-M0 processor with rich peripherals to offer additional features and connectivity capability. Besides the NUC100, NUC120, NUC130 and NUC140 series, the new series the NuMicro M051 series, includes the M052/54/58/516 to supply for the worldwide 8-bit/16-bit microcontroller demand with a higher performance in a 32-bit microcontroller. The Nuvoton Cortex-M0 development kit costs only $20, that sounds cheap for developers to get into experimenting with those kinds of processors.

I’m on German Radio, DRadio Wissen interviews me at CeBIT about my video-blogging

Posted by – March 7, 2011

German National Public Radio reporter Moritz Metz interviews me (in English) for 6 and a half-minutes for radio channel DRadio Wissen (pre-ceded by a short bit by Chris Ziegler of Engadget talking about 1-man blogging operations like mine): (direct mp3 download link)

DRadio Wissen is a science and knowledge National German Radio channel operated by public radio broadcaster Deutschlandradio out of Cologne.


Peter Sunde, co-founder of and, at CeBIT 2011

Posted by – March 6, 2011

A few years ago, Peter Sunde together with a bunch of cool guys in Sweden started, which is kind of a fun site where people can find torrent files for all kinds of things. It has been in the media. There is a chance that you know about that site. Peter Sunde is very much involved in the politics around filesharing on the Internet, the politics of media and content, he has spoken at the european union and RIAA and MPAA have a bunch of lawsuits going after him and his team. He tried to buy a country once to implement freedom of filesharing rules there or to build a server farm there, but instead thepiratebay is hosted around the world and can never be shut down and nobody knows who controls it. Those guys are fun (read their Legal Threats page). What do you think about Copyrights, Piracy and those kinds of things? Write your opinions in the comments.

Toradex shows Tegra2 computer on SO-DIMM form factor

Posted by – March 4, 2011

This may be the most compact Tegra2 fully featured box PC computer thus far. They use 256MB RAM DDR2, 1GB flash storage for 99 euros, they’ll also do a slightly higher end version with 512MB RAM and 4GB flash storage version soon. The cheapest board and box could be made for less than 50 euros more. Thus the idea is a sub-150 euro Tegra2 box PC all included and it being slightly larger than a box of playing cards, just big enough to accomodate the connectors.

Seco x86-ARM Cross Platform

Posted by – March 4, 2011

Seco provides cross platform Q7 platforms where users can swap from x86 to ARM Powered seamlessly, with minimum hardware and software porting. They provide Quadmo747-X/T20 for Tegra2, OMAP4, OMAP3, i.MX51 and i.MX28. This way, customers can have as much choice as possible, going from one processor to the other. All board vendors are joining the Q7 board standard, for interoperability in swapping modules.

QNX talks about the Blackberry Tablet OS on Playbook

Posted by – March 4, 2011

QNX has been working with RIM for quite some time now to enable full multi-process hardware acceleration. QNX Neutrino OS enables deep hardware and software integration, there has been a collaboration between Texas Instruments, QNX and RIM to make this work. QNX has had SMP utilization since 1997, they were enabling dual discreet parts back then. QNX is used to scaling. The ARM Cortex-A9 Dual-core, Quad-core and further processors will enable QNX to deploy their value on the market.