HP teams up with Calxeda for ARM servers

HP plans to sell servers based on ARM's low-powered chips with help from Calxeda, a move that is likely to put stress on its relationship with x86 chipmaker Intel

HP is planning to sell ARM-based servers, a first for the company.

The servers have been developed with help from Calxeda, an ARM-backed server designer based in Austin, Texas, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Calxeda, previously known as Smooth-Stone, raised almost £30m from a consortium of investors including ARM in August 2010 to build ARM-powered servers. According to Forrester analyst Richard Fichera, it was planning to develop a low-powered ARM server that would consume less than 5W per server node and would use a quad-core Cortex-A9 processor, DRAM and a fabric interconnect.

5W per node is a much smaller power footprint than that seen in Intel's chips: the latter's Xeon E7 series consumes anywhere between 95W and 130W for the chip alone, while the Xeon E3 low-powered range gets down to 20W but averages at around 80W.

"Calxeda is in talks with other major server makers about the use of its processors in their products, with partnerships possibly announced in the next few months," The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, crediting people familiar with the matter. "The people also said Calxeda plans to talk with storage vendors and other companies about using its chips."

Dell, HP's primary server competitor, announced plans in May 2010 to develop an ARM-based server using processors tweaked by Marvell: however, nothing happened. Marvell demonstrated a quad-core ARM server chip, called the Armada XP, in November 2010. HP has long used both Intel and AMD chips in its server line-up, but the potential arrival of ARM as a serious player in enterprise servers is seen by Intel as a credible new threat.


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