AppliedMicro, Altera team to speed up ARM servers

Applied Micro and Altera said they will collaborate to bring FPGAs to ARM servers

Applied Micro Circuits is aiming to make its 64-bit chip for ARM servers more powerful and flexible through a collaboration with specialized chip maker Altera.

Applied Micro on Monday said it would combine its 64-bit X-Gene chips with Altera's FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) in ARM servers. Applied Micro's X-Gene is expected to ship later this year or early next year, while Altera is a market leader in FPGAs.

FPGAs are reprogrammable circuits typically used for specific applications. For example, FPGAs are used alongside the Cell CPU in PlayStation's PlayStation 3 to help boost gaming. While FPGAs are expensive and limited in scope, they are heavily used for simulation of processor designs and testing of applications. Applied Micro's X-Gene chip was first publicly demonstrated via an FPGA.

The collaboration will lead to development of hardware and software products for data centers, including enterprise networking and storage products, the companies said in a joint statement. The announcement came after Applied Micro on Monday sold its TPACK subsidiary, which works on FPGAs for networking, to Altera. The company did not officially announce the sale price, but the transaction is expected to close this month.

There is a growing interest in ARM servers as a way to process fast-moving Internet and Web requests while keeping power consumption low. Hewlett-Packard and Dell are expected to make low-power ARM servers based on 64-bit chips available sometime in the future. Dell has already shown a 64-bit server running on Applied Micro's 64-bit chip.

Altera is one of the largest FPGA makers and competes with companies like Xilinx, Tabula and Achronix Semiconductor. The company recently said its FPGAs would be manufactured by Intel in the future.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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