Calxeda Expands 32-, 64-Bit ARM Server Plans
The new SoCs will offer twice the performance, four times the memory capacity and three times the memory bandwidth than current ARM-based servers, according to Calxeda, which will demonstrate the chips with the open-source OpenStack cloud technology and the open-source Ceph distributed object storage software at the ARM TechCon event in Santa Clara, Calif., Oct. 29-31. The ECX-2000, which supports KVM and XEN open-source virtualization hypervisors, also is being certified by Canonical for Ubuntu 13.10, which includes the latest OpenStack released, dubbed "Havana." As ARM looks to gain traction in a data center environment dominated by Intel, support of open-source technology will be a key driver, according to officials. Intel executives, when promoting their Atom C2000 "Avoton" chips for microservers, noted that the x86-based chips come with familiar programming tools. However, in an interview with eWEEK in April when HP announced its first Moonshot systems—the initial ones being powered by Atom—Llakshmi Mandyam, director of ARM's Server and Ecosystems unit, argued that open-source technology is continuing to grow in data centers. "Open source is the great equalizer," Mandyam said. "I don't think the gap [between ARM and Intel in server processor technology] is as much as you might think." Calxeda officials have been sampling with ECX-2000 with partners and expect to ship the SoC in volume to system makers before the end of the year. System makers such as HP, Dreamhost, Aaeon, Boston Ltd. and Penguin Computing will release systems with the new SoC later this year, according to Calxeda officials.Calxeda is expanding its portfolio of 64-bit SoCs with the addition of the planned "Sarita" offering. Sarita will complement the already announced "Lago" chips, but also will be pin-compatible with the 32-bit ECX-1000 and ECX-2000 SoCs. The pin compatibility will make it easier for Calxeda partners to reduce development time and expense while accelerating the ecosystem around 64-bit ARM, according to company officials.
In servers, 64-bit capabilities as well as greater virtualization and memory support are important features. ARM's first 64-bit architecture—ARMv8-A—is due next year, and a range of chip makers, including Calxeda, Marvell and AMD, are expected to offer server chips based on the design. Applied Micro officials point to their upcoming 280-nanometer X-Gene as an ARM-based SoC with Xeon-like features and capabilities.