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January 6, 2014

Calxeda Closes Shop, Attempts to Restructure

Tiffany Trader
CALXEDA EnergyCore 300x280

On December 19, 2013, news broke that Austin-based ARM server chip pioneer Calxeda had ceased operations. This came as a surprise to many, especially supporters of ARM servers as an alternative to x86 dominance. EnterpriseTech‘s Timothy Prickett Morgan reports that despite the closing, Calxeda’s technology could live on, depending on who is willing to purchase said technology and at what price Calxeda’s investors are willing to part with it.

“Any current ARM server chip maker could be interested in acquiring the assets of Calxeda, as could any server maker or hyperscale datacenter operator with ARM aspirations of their own,” TPM writes, “The Fleet Services fabric interconnect that Calxeda developed is particularly valuable and can be dangerous falling into enemy hands.”

“If Barry Evans, the company’s co-founder, does manage to reorganize Calxeda with its investors, as he is currently trying to do, it is reasonable to expect the company to emerge to peddle this interconnect technology in a more generic way. Perhaps Calxeda can license the Fleet Services interconnect to other X86, Power, MIPS, and ARM chip makers, much as ARM Holdings licenses the ARM core designs to companies like Calxeda.”

Calxeda like others in the ARM microserver camp, including Applied Micro Systems, NVIDIA, Marvell Technology, Broadcom and Samsung, envisioned a future in which ARM server chips were the building blocks of energy-efficient clusters. Creating a new software-hardware ecosystem isn’t easy, however, and developing the 64-bit ARM servers may have required more time and capital than Calxeda bargained for. At a meeting on December 16, Calxeda backers opted to close shop and restructure the company. Most of the company’s 125 employees have been laid off.

Calxeda had previously raised a total of about $103 million in venture capital funding (a $48 million round in 2010 and an additional $55 million in October 2012). A source cited by AllThingsD said the company had tried to raise a fourth round of capital but was unsuccessful. Although specific reasons were not given for the folding, the same source said the company just ran out of money.

In a prepared statement, company president Barry Evans said, “Carrying the load of industry pioneer has exceeded our ability to continue to operate as we had envisioned. We wanted to let you know that Calxeda has begun a restructuring process. During this process, we remain committed to our customer’s success with ECX-2000 projects that are now underway.”

Karl Freund, who was vice president of marketing at Calxeda, confirmed to EnterpriseTech that the company will continue support for “Midway” ECX-2000 processors. The Midway chips, which tout 32-bit ARM cores with 40-bit extended memory addressing, were positioned as a bridge between the current 32-bit ARM chips and future 64-bit versions. Unveiled at the end of October 2013, they are due to appear in systems in the first half of 2014.