Architects of Efficiency: Calxeda’s ARM Technology Greens Data Centers

November 12th, 2012 by Eric Lane Leave a reply »

Calxeda is an Austin, Texas, company that develops data center efficiency solutions.  The company’s EnergyCore technology provides power-efficient data center architecture for large computer environments such as web servers, media streaming infrastructure and cloud storage.

Calxeda owns at least one U.S. patent and three pending patent applications.  U.S. Patent No. 8,180,996 is entitled “Distributed computing system with universal address system and method” and directed to a distributed computing system having enhanced distributed storage and a universal address system (’996 Patent).

Granted in May 2012, the ’996 Patent teaches computer units featuring ARM processing cores, which Calxeda’s web site describes as “ultra-efficient” and the “heart” of the EnergyCore architecture.  According to this Greentech Media piece on the company, ARM chips are common in the cell phone market and consume considerably less power than Intel chips.

U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2011/0103391 (’391 Application) relates to Calxeda’s fabric switch for interconnecting multiple EnergyCore systems.  Entitled “System and method for high-performance, low-power data center interconnect fabric,” the ’391 Application is directed to a switch and switch fabric system for routing data through a plurality of nodes.

FIG. 5A illustrates an exemplary switch (900) having four areas of interest (910a-d) where area 910a corresponds to Ethernet packets between the CPUs and Media Access Controls (MACs), area 910b corresponds to Ethernet frames at the Ethernet physical interface at the inside MACs, area 910c corresponds to Ethernet frames at the Ethernet physical interface at the outside MAC, and area 910d corresponds to Ethernet packets between the processor of routing header (901) and outside MAC (904).

The operating system device drivers of A9 cores (905) manage and control Inside Eth0 (902) and Inside Eth1 MAC (903).  The device driver of management processor (906) manages and controls Inside Eth2 MAC (907).  Outside Eth MAC (904) is not controlled by a device driver, but instead is configured to pass all frames with any filtering for network monitoring.

The ’391 Application describes the asymmetric MAC architecture as follows:

The inside MACs have the Ethernet physical signaling interface into the routing header processor, and the outside MAC has an Ethernet packet interface into the routing header processor.  Thus the MAC IP is re-purposed for inside MACs and outside MACs, and what would normally be the physical signaling for the MAC to feed into the switch is leveraged.

According to the ’391 Application, the invention reduces the size and power requirements of data centers.  Specifically, the invention fills a need for “a system and method for packet switching functionality focused on network aggregation that reduces the size and power requirements of typical systems while reducing cost all at the same time.”

The above-mentioned Greentech Media article says that Calxeda will be scaling up and expanding to new markets thanks to a recent $55 million funding round.

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