back to article Calxeda unsheathes Midway ARM server steel to split Intel's Atom

ARM server upstart Calxeda has 'fessed up about the innards of its next wave of low-power server chips – but should Intel be worried? The "Midway" processor family, aka the ECX-2000, was announced today, and succeeds the ARM Cortex-A9-based ECX-1000 range. Calxeda has refined its system-on-a-chip (SoC) design so that it can hit …

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Roo
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Windows

Not bad for a first cut. Kick-on Calxeda. :)

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Silver badge

How long

before Intel does

1) Comes out with its own ARM 64bit Server chip

OR

2) gets the cheque book out and buys up the competition?

If they don't do this, I think they risk going the same way as BlackBerry or even Nokia.

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Roo
Silver badge
Windows

Re: How long

There's still room for Intel. They maintain a very large footprint in interconnect... USB, PCIExpress, Ethernet, Cray, and then there is all the optical I/O stuff they're developing.

Then there is all this talk of them helping people produce SoCs with their fabs, and people speculating that they may open up their fabs. They could do that too, and with the political climate at the moment they might even get some serious support for building fabs in mainland USA.

Sure, getting wiped out of the processor market would hurt a lot, but Intel have many very well developed facets, so I don't think they'll vanish, although it is certain they will evolve. :)

I can forgive Intel a lot after they put their weight behind USB & PCI. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How long

AMD saw them coming. I'll be shocked if the A57 Seattle Opterons haven't already taped out for release at some time in H2 2014 at the latest.

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Silver badge

Re: How long

> Sure, getting wiped out of the processor market would hurt a lot, but Intel have many very well developed facets, so I don't think they'll vanish, although it is certain they will evolve. :)

The issue would be PC manufacturers putting cheap ARM chips into PC's as an "always-on" option. People might stop booting home PCs to check email, etc and it would drive desktop linux/arm application development, which might then impact intel quite a bit more.

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Bronze badge

Seems a bit thirsty

The ODROID-XU has a very similar setup (also a 1.8GHz A7/A15 combo, though running in big.LITTLE mode), but it seems to only draw about 4 to 5 watts when fully loaded. I guess that the 100Gb network, extra RAM (assuming Calxeda's boards have more than 2Gb) and other peripheral devices (versus XU's USB3 + fan) could account for some of that, but 4x power consumption seems a lot.

Still, 20W is still most excellent for servers, and by the looks of it, they've still got room to bring that down either in the forthcoming board or the next one after that...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seems a bit thirsty

I think Intel are quite far ahead in terms of chip production technology and they need to be to get their chips to compete with ARM.

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Gold badge

LPAE

The A15 does support LPAE (Large Physical Address Extension), which is supposed to allow 40-bit addressing (256GB maximum), as does Linux. I think this would still limit per-process memory to less than 4GB, but certainly is better than 4GB total.

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Anonymous Coward

apologies if I'm being dense, but where does this leave [server] virtualisation...?

I'm guessing these aren't meant for virtualisation, Does the density and power consumption offer an *alternative* to virtualisation?

As I write this, there is an ad for an IBM System x3650 M4 server from 1,325 pounds incl VAT. It is a 2U server with 16 2.5" drive bays. In 12-18 months, imagine if those drive bays were *each* a self-contained server - 4 core AMD64 Atom processor, 16GB RAM, 128GB SSD, with the chassis now merely relegated to being a 10GB PoE switch, providing power and networking. 16 servers in a 2U chassis consuming 320W...

Provides an interesting alternative to paying VMware/Hyper-V. I *know* virtualisation offers a great deal, but the original big sell is density, capital and energy cost...

Will these ever emerge as consumer/SMB devices? The "cloud" is great for instant provisioning and infinite scalability, but you do pay. Imagine a box the size of a DVD player that is

- FTTC/FTTP modem

- UTM firewall

- Exchange/Lync/SharePoint or Sendmail/Jabber/Apache/Samba if you prefer

- 802.11ac wireless

Plug it into your broadband and do it on premises, relegating cloud to backup.

A sort of Cobalt Qube (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt_Qube) for the 21st century. Plug and play, relatively cheap yet fabulously powerful.

Oh the possibilities...

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hfp

They just purposely picked SKUs out of Intel's range of Atom platforms

They just purposely picked SKUs out of Intel's range of Atom platforms that allow highlighting their supposed to be unique features. One may pick an Atom (also codenamed 'Silvermont') from the 'Rangeley' platform:

http://ark.intel.com/products/family/71264/Intel-Atom-Processor-for-Communications/embedded

Such a SoC would carry more than enough with respect to the "broad set of I/O controllers, 10Gbps Ethernet". Also, the BIG.little concept just makes the part described in the article somehow heterogeneous (which is kind of unsatisfactory given that it is supposed to make things simpler).

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