ARM server start-up Calxeda gets $55m cash infusion

The funding doubles Calxeda's war chest as investors bet on the hardware specialist's low-power ARM-based servers as a good fit for the datacentre.
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Server start-up Calxeda has closed a $55m funding round, as investors bet on the success of low-power ARM chips in the datacentre.

Calxeda, founded in 2008, produces 'EnergyCard' servers that are based on low-power ARM processors. Its chips have been used in a prototype ARM server from HP, named the Redstone Server Development platform.

The EnergyCore ARM-based server processor from Calxeda
The EnergyCore ARM-based server processor from Calxeda

The new investment, announced on Tuesday, sees Austin Ventures and Vulcan Capital plough millions into Calxeda, doubling the company's total funding to date to over $100m. Vulcan was co-founded by Microsoft veteran Paul Allen.

The cash will let Calxeda hire more software and hardware engineers and support its general 'go to market' efforts, according to the company's marketing chief Karl Freund.

"This significant infusion of capital will accelerate the exciting trajectory we've been on for the past four years," the server company's chief executive, Barry Evans, said in a statement.

In tests, Calxeda's technology has outperformed Intel's chips while consuming less power, though the results of a recent test have been disputed by Intel

I understand that Calxeda is getting ready to unveil a new server design. There's a slim chance this could be a 64-bit capable platform, as ARM announced its first 64-bit chip designs in October 2011. This timing means chips based on the designs could be manufactured by the first half of 2013.

Austin, Texas-based Calxeda's existing investors include ARM, Advanced Technology Investment, Battery Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Highland Capital Partners.

Low-power temptations

This substantial cash infusion is another clear sign that investors are becoming aware of the restrictions of Intel and AMD's processors. Though these are very good at high-end computation, their bloated x86 chip architectures could make it difficult for them to serve the low power needs of large-scale datacentres.

ARM's RISC-architecture chips, by contrast, are already a good fit for this type of environment, and Facebook is already testing them in its datacentre.

With the launch of ARM's 64-bit chips next year, it will become easier to tell whether the low-power use is attractive enough to cause a transition away from x86. These investors are betting that is the case. 

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