Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, said he was surprised to learn about Calxeda's demise, given the strong relationships the vendor had with HP, Dell and original design manufacturers (ODMs). However, Moorhead agreed that Calxeda may have come out of the gate too early.
"Data centers didn't want too many software transitions, from X86 to 32-bit ARM to 64-bit ARM," he said in an email to eWEEK. "In the end, scale-out data centers were only open to one potential change. There is still a market desire for very dense servers and the technology that provides this, lower-power SoCs tied together by intelligent fabric. Intel has made huge advances here, but there are no less than 10 ARM-based companies focused on specialized silicon for specific workloads that are chomping at the bit to make inroads. It will be an interesting 2014 as 64-bit ARM servers make their presence."
Lakshmi Mandyam, director server systems and ecosystem for ARM, said she was hopeful that Calxeda's innovations won't be lost.
"As an innovator Calxeda successfully demonstrated the benefits of efficient ARM-based servers and we are hopeful their restructuring can preserve the technology that they developed," Mandyam said in an email to eWEEK. "Many other companies are now developing solutions around ARM spanning a range of workloads and goals, so regardless today's news doesn't change our commitment to, or outlook on the server and networking markets."
In an interview with eWEEK earlier this year, Andrew Feldman, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Server Business Unit, said ARM has a strong future in the data center, predicting that it will account for 20 percent of all server chip sales by 2016. Feldman also said that he expects AMD—which already makes x86-based server chips—to become the dominant ARM-based server chip maker. The company already has a history of making server chips, strong relationships with system OEMs and ODMs, and a lot of IP that it can draw on, he said. In addition, AMD has the capabilities and can spend the money needed to come out with upgraded chips every 12 to 18 months, a costly and difficult proposition for smaller companies like Calxeda and AppliedMicro.
"The CPU business is no place for small companies," Feldman said. "It's just too expensive."
Intel has been aggressively building out its low-power Atom platform to meet the growing demand for energy-efficient and dense servers. The company in September began shipping its second-generation 22-nanometer Atom C2000 "Avoton" SoCs, which are based on the new "Silvermont" microarchitecture that Intel officials said exceeds the ARM architecture in power and performance.