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Chip startup Calxeda raises $55 million for ARM-based servers

The Austin, Texas, company builds data centers that feature low-power chips like those normally found in cell phones.

Calxeda EnergyCore. Calxeda

Calxeda, the startup that's building data centers with chips normally found in cell phones, has raised an additional $55 million, signaling that its low-power server technology may be gaining traction.

The company, which was founded four years ago by former Intel and Marvell engineer Barry Evans, is an early proponent of using ARM architecture in servers rather than traditional x86 designs popularized by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

"This significant infusion of capital will accelerate the exciting trajectory we've been on for the past four years," Evans said in a statement. "Businesses require a more efficient solution for the Web, Cloud, and big data. That is what Calxeda is now delivering and this funding will enable us to go bigger and faster."

Last November, the 100-employee company launched its EnergyCore "server on a chip," which yields a four-core server that runs at 5 watts and, when idle, uses less than half a watt. To save energy, EnergyCore runs at a lower speed than typical processors, at just more than 1 gigahertz.

The company says that EnergyCore is well suited for "big data" applications that crunch large amounts of data in parallel. However, its 32-bit chips hobble it for complex, high-performance computing tasks that are better served with 64-bit processors, which Calxeda expects to begin production on in 2014.

Calxeda, founded in 2008, is finding itself in an increasingly crowded sector. Intel is developing low-power Atom processors for servers, and Hewlett-Packard said last year that it would bring out a server based on an ARM chip. Earlier this year, AMD purchased SeaMicro in an effort to make a run at Intel in the microserver market.

The new round brings the Austin, Texas, startup's funding to more than $103 million. In addition to funding from existing investors ARM Holdings, Advanced Technology Investment, Battery Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Highland Capital Partners, Calxeda added funding from new investors Austin Ventures and Vulcan Capital, an investment company started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.