Computer Electronics

ARM Server Pioneer Calxeda Closes

24 December 2013

In a rare reversal for ARM in global computing, startup Calxeda Inc. (Austin, Texas) has announced that it cannot continue its operations and has begun a restructuring process. It is being interpreted that Calxeda has run out of money and the restructuring will be involve the sale of its intellectual property, including chip designs.

Calxeda, which was founded in 2008 as Smooth-Stone, has been a chip, board and system-level company that aimed to attack the server market with processors based on ARM processor cores. The company has received more than $100 million since its founding from investors that include ARM Holdings plc, Abu Dhabi-based Advanced Technology Investment Co., Texas Instruments, Austin Ventures, Vulcan Capital, Battery Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners and Highland Capital Partners.

The pitch was that ARM-based servers could reduce energy consumption and lower costs compared with x86-based servers. However, Calxeda was an early supporter of ARM in servers at a time with the IP company only offered 32-bit cores. In 2011 Calxeda announced the ECX-1000, a quad-core Cortex-A9 processor, and a board-level EnergyCard that contained four such processors.

However, as other chip companies have started to leap-frog it with 64-bit ARM-based processor designs aimed at servers Calxeda, appears to have suffered from a lack of strategic investment.

Applied Micro Circuits Corp. has produced a 64-bit ARM-based processor called X-Gene and there are rumors that companies such as Facebook and Google could develop their own ARM-based silicon for servers.

Calxeda was a partner for Hewlett Packard and its Project Moonshot family of servers. But HP launched Moonshot in April 2013 based on Intel Atom processors.

Calxeda had announced a roadmap that included an upgrade at the 32-bit level in 2013, a quad-core Cortex-A15 chp called Midway, with its first 64-bit chip, Lago, due to arrive in October 2014. The plan was that Lago would use four ARMv8 cores but it seems that Calxeda needed significant strategic investment to follow through on its plans; investment that was not forthcoming.

Calxeda posted a statement on its website saying that ARM-based servers were now a foregone conclusion but that "Unfortunately, carrying the load of industry pioneer has exceeded our ability to continue to operate as we had envisioned, and so Calxeda has begun a restructuring process."

In October the company launched its Midway ECX-2000 processor with quad-core Cortex-A15 and a dual-core Cortex-A7. Calxeda, said it would continue to support customers working on ECX-2000 projects during the restructuring.

Calxeda said it would provide an update at the conclusion of its restructuring finished off by saying: "Energy, matter, and innovation are never lost, just reassembled. We look forward to the inevitable application of our ideas."

Related links and articles:

News articles:

ARM Servers Aim Higher Despite Current Miniscule Market

ARM's New CEO: In the Right Place at the Right Time

ARM servers' success attributed to build-out

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