Calxeda's Trailblazer program is designed to create a way to more quickly get the company's ARM-based server processors out into the industry.
Officials with Calxeda, the startup
that is building ARM-based chips
for low-power data
center servers, is putting a program in place to create an ecosystem around its
technology and more quickly open up the industry for its products.
Calxeda on June 14 announced its
Trailblazer program, which kicked off with 10 initial members that touch on
such areas as cloud computing and open-source software. They all fall in line
with Calxeda's goal of creating data center solutions based on highly
energy-efficient servers that are powered by the company's upcoming processor
technology, with the goal of helping businesses stem the growth in energy
consumption and reduce power costs.
Formerly called Smooth-Stone, Calxeda
is one of a growing number of chip makers looking to take ARM-based low-power
chip designs-which currently are found in most smartphones and tablets-and
create processors for energy-efficient servers for such environments as cloud
computing and Web serving and big data. Marvell Technologies and Nvidia are
among others heading in this direction, and ARM officials last year unveiled
its Cortex-A15 design
, which offers faster speeds,
support for virtualization and greater memory capacity, all elements important
to processor chips.
They are looking to gain traction in an
area traditionally held by x86 stalwarts Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. ARM
CEO Warren East late last year declared that ARM-based chips
would begin eating into Intel's
sizable server processor market share by 2014.
Calxeda officials expect to be players
in that scenario. In March, they said engineers were continuing to work on
coding, and suggested that Calxeda's SoC (system on a chip)-which initially
will be based on ARM's Cortex-A9 design-could start reaching OEMs later this
year, with products based on the chips arriving soon after that.
The Trailblazer program is designed to
push the Calxeda technology forward, according to CEO Barry Evans.
"We see Trailblazer as a critical step
in the evolution of this marketplace, and are thrilled by the support we are
receiving from the community to help it materialize," Evans said in a
statement. "The data center energy crisis is real, and the faster we can help
our system vendors and partners get complete solutions in our customers' hands,
the faster we can help them save money, and reduce their energy consumption and
Initial program members are Autonomic
Resources, Ubuntu sponsor Canonical, Caringo, Couchbase, Datastax, Eucalyptus
Systems, Gluster, Momentum SI, Opscode and Pervasive. More companies are
expected to join, according to Calxeda officials.
These vendors will be among the first
to receive and test Calxeda's products, and will also help end users evaluate
Calxeda systems. The initial Trailblazer members will evaluate everything from
application requirements to system configurations to estimated energy savings.
Calxeda officials said the program is a
way of meeting customer and partner demand for getting systems powered by its
chips into data centers. Trailblazer members will get access to early silicon
for proof-of-concept testing. They also will get early access to hardware,
operating system software, tools, applications, and joint sales and marketing,
the company said.
During an interview in March, Karl
Freund, the former Hewlett-Packard and IBM executive who now is the startup's
vice president of marketing at Calxeda, said demand is starting to grow as the
company gets the word out.
"Before the response was, -Are you
crazy?'" Freund said. "Now the response is, -When do we get one?'"
Calxeda officials said their SoC will
offer 120 quad-core ARM nodes-or 480 cores-in a 2U (3.5-inch) form factor. The
average power consumption will be about 5 watts per node, and such a system
will consume about 600 watts and offer the same performance as a full rack of
x86-based systems that use about 4,000 watts.
However, there will be significant
challenges, including the dominant positions Intel and AMD hold in the server
market and the fact that a large number of data center applications run on x86,
not ARM's architecture.