Comms chips

Cavium Customizes for the Cloud

Cavium Inc. (Nasdaq: CAVM) is developing a line of multicore microprocessors specifically targeting the cloud and the data center and built from scratch using the ARMv8 instruction set from ARM Ltd. .

The effort is called Project Thunder. Cavium announced it Wednesday but isn't disclosing further details and isn't saying when products might arrive, so we'll have to wait to find out how much thunder the chips pack.

Why this matters
ARM-based chips get used in cellphones, but it looks like they're headed for servers as well. Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA) launched Project Denver at the beginning of 2011, using the same ARMv8 architecture as Cavium. (Servers are one of many target markets for Denver.)

Aside from the fact that "Denver vs. Thunder" sounds like an arena football match, the implication is that other chip companies see a chance to combat Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) in servers, in part by offering low-power alternatives.

Intel has the upper hand in terms of chip-manufacturing prowess, Cavium CEO Syed Ali admitted on Wednesday's earnings call. He said he's convinced Cavium has found a product strategy that puts the company in a unique position in the cloud market, though. "There are several sub-segments where we can offer a significant amount of value," he said.

If it works, it could open up a new business direction for Cavium. "Definitely it'll bring a whole bunch of new customers into the mix," Ali said.

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— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:25:01 PM
re: Cavium Customizes for the Cloud

Besides speed and power, what can the microprocessor do that would be so particularly helpful to the cloud?  I'm curious what Cavium thinks it's got here.

Not sure if the comparison to nVidia is a perfect parallel.  IIRC, nVidia is also going after PCs and supercomputers. But it came up repeatedly on the earnings call, since it's the closest analogue anyone could think of.

kaka 12/5/2012 | 5:24:54 PM
re: Cavium Customizes for the Cloud

It might have to do with security, esp with the hypervisors.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:24:48 PM
re: Cavium Customizes for the Cloud

> It might have to do with security, esp with the hypervisors.

Good guess, especially considering Cavium's history with security.

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