ARM, the fast-growing developer of processors, may be about to challenge Intel and AMD on a new front thanks to a possible deal for Hewlett-Packard to bring ARM-based servers to market via a partnership with Calxeda.
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that HP and Calxeda are pairing up to bring ARM-based servers to companies building large data centers and looking for ways to reduce the power consumption of their server infrastructure.
The Journal, citing unnamed sources, said that HP and Calxeda are expected to unveil a prototype server and a proof-of-concept program.
The time of the announcement could be as soon as next week. HP on Tuesday is slated to introduce new server technology "that will transform the data center" and address "compute demands driven by information explosion," according to an invitation passed to press organizations.
Such a move, should it prove true, could be a blow to both Intel and AMD. Intel in the second quarter of 2011 had a 79.3-percent share of the world's microprocessor shipments, with AMD coming in at second with a 20.4 percent share and Via at third with a tiny 0.3-percent share, according to IDC.
However, in the PC server and workstation processor business, Intel had a 94.5-percent market share compared to a 5.5-percent market share for AMD, IDC said.
Calxeda first entered the server market in June with a group of partners including integrators, ISVs, and users who are developing applications around its ARM processor-based, power-efficient server technology.
At the time, Calxeda unveiled plans to produce servers based on its ARM processors, each of which consumes only 5 Watts of power. Calxeda is taking a standard quad-core ARM processor, building it into a small package of components which together form a fully functioning server, and packing about 120 of them into a 2U rack enclosure. That puts 480 processor cores in a 2U space.
Those servers were slated to be released this year from system vendors the company declined to name, and take advantage of applications from partners in the Calxeda Trailblazer Initiative, which includes integrators and ISVs focused on cloud computing and big data, said Karl Freund, vice president of marketing for Calxeda, in June.
Intel is not concerned about the possible partnership between HP and Calxeda or about how it might impact HP's relationship with Intel, an Intel spokesperson told CRN.
The Intel spokesperson said that Intel is already addressing the microserver market, which targets low power consumption data center architectures with highly dense architectures, with new versions of its Xeon processor which consume as low as 20 Watts per processor, and its Atom processors which feature sub-10-Watt power consumption.
Unlike the ARM processors, Intel's Atom processors are x86-based software compatible, the Intel spokesperson said. Furthermore, the Atom processors support 64-bit operation and ECC memory, making them suitable for a wide variety of applications, especially for applications which require high scalability.
Intel has recently accelerated its Atom processor roadmap with plans to move from its current 32-nanometer process for manufacturing the chips to a 22-nanometer process in 2013 and a 14-nanometer process in 2014.
The company plans to build Atom processors for the server market and for the burgeoning mobile PC and smart device market using the same process, the Intel spokesperson said.
Next: Calxeda Lining Up Partners For Data Center Push