Guest blog written by Barry Evans, Calxeda CEO and Founder
With the announcement of the Calxeda EnergyCore processor and HP’s Project Moonshot, together we have reached a major milestone on a journey that started some 3 years ago in a living room in Austin, Texas. Here’s how it all began. A few of us were brainstorming about changing the world, going up against all odds with a big dream - you know how those conversations go. Armed with Microsoft PowerPoint® and Excel®, we started pitching VC’s to get funding for a (gasp!) semiconductor startup - the first digital semi startup to be funded in many years. And we were successful. Why? Because our idea was simple, but huge: Provide the industry with an alternative server processor platform that is an order of magnitude more efficient.
For the industry, the journey has just begun and we are thrilled to have HP help us lead the way with the Redstone Development Platform. This will be a road the industry has travelled twice before. Once, when the Mainframe was replaced with more focused and more efficient alternatives in the form of Unix servers. And again, a dozen years later when those focused solutions were challenged by a single architecture from a single company. In both cases, the Innovator’s Dilemma was at play and the lesser solution won out because it was more cost effective for certain workloads. Today, it seems we are once again at an Innovator’s Dilemma junction.
For Calxeda’s part, we are thrilled to be able to share details about our first product, the EnergyCore processor. Consuming as little as 1.5 watts, it allows innovative system vendors like HP to create servers with 10 times the throughput in the same power and space envelope used today. We are very proud that HP has selected Calxeda to join them on this trip, and will work hard to ensure that their customers benefit from HP’s courage and inventiveness.
This journey will have massive impact on customers and vendors alike. In the next 5-10 years, we will see the hardware industry reshaped in a manner analogous to what we have seen with Linux and the Open Source movement. As Ian Ferguson wrote in his blog last month, one size no longer fits all (Server Ecosystem: A Fine Kettle of Fish). The “open” ARM model will enable scores of companies to innovate based on a common architecture, each focusing on what matters to the markets they want to address. As they say “Come on in, the water’s fine”!
Below is a recap of Calxeda's announcement.
Efficiency Starts at The Core
Designed from the ground up with a focus on energy efficiency, the EnergyCore processor consumes as little as 1.5W per SoC. When equipped with 4 cores, the integrated on-chip fabric switch, the on-chip management engine, and 4GB DRAM, a complete server node consumes only 5W, and ½ watt when idle.
Scalability You Can Grow Into
An integrated EnergyCore Fabric Switch within every SoC provides up to five 10 Gigabit lanes for connecting thousands of EnergyCore server nodes into clusters capable of handling distributed applications at extreme scale.
Intelligence So It Just Works
Every EnergyCore SoC also contains an on-chip Management Engine, running on a separate, dedicated processor. The patent-pending design performs real-time power optimizations by individually tuning 15 different power domains within the chip, idling or turning off entire subsystems when possible, yet instantly resuming operation within a matter of clock cycles. Additionally, the Calxeda Management Engine provides “always-on” remote management capabilities through standard interfaces that work seamlessly with existing system management tools.
Barry Evans founded Calxeda in 2008 as its CEO and led the company to raise $48M in one of the most significant fabless semiconductor startup financings in recent history while earning recognition by MIT as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world. Mr. Evans is an 20 year veteran of the semiconductor industry having held several roles in management, sales and marketing across wireless handheld, telecommunications, embedded servers, and embedded computing applications. Prior to founding Calxeda, he was the VP and GM of Marvell’s Application Processing Business Unit in the Cellular and Handheld Group (acquired from Intel). Mr. Evans was responsible for the Xscale processor (ARM-based) SoC product line, the world’s highest performance handheld processors with revenues exceeding $300 million. Prior to this, Mr. Evans served in GM and Director roles at Intel responsible for customer engagements and product strategies to address the wireless handheld and infrastructure markets. He holds a BSEE from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from Boston University.