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Google said to have hired Calxeda's chief fabric architect

So, Google, how ARE those ARM chips going?

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Exclusive Google has hired one of ARM chip designer Calxeda's chief architects, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

By hiring Prashant Chandra, formerly Calxeda's Chief Fabric Architect and before that an influential technical figure at chip titan Intel, Google will be able to further its various chip design schemes as the company tries to build custom infrastructure for its mammoth business.

Calxeda was an ARM chip designer whose main selling point was the networking fabric that lashed its custom ARM chips together without the need for a switch. The company folded in December after running out of money, having not found a market for its 32-bit ARM processors.

Since then, numerous companies have picked up some of its staff, including ARM, Cavium, and – as first reported by GigaOm – Amazon, which hired staff for its own fledgling chip design efforts.

Now it appears that Google has joined the club, adding more evidence that the online giant is working on new chips that cannot be bought from traditional vendors like Intel and AMD.

Google is thought to be at the head of the pack of companies designing their own infrastructure, having already spent several years building its own servers, storage, and networking gear. The company spent $2.35 billion in capital investments in its most recent financial quarter with the majority of that going to IT equipment, so any percentage improvement in efficiency will translate to savings in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Over the past year, there has been tantalizing evidence that Google has ambitions to design its own server chips, with Bloomberg reporting in December that the company was considering licensing ARM technology.

Shortly after that, a well-placed source within the industry told El Reg that Google might want to design their own chips because "they want it for their own shit and they don't want Bing to have it."

Now it seems Google is progressing with that plan as part of a broad effort to investigate new types of infrastructure. The company also recently joined IBM's OpenPOWER foundation and demonstrated a test motherboard based on the non-x86 chip design.

Though Chandra formerly worked at ARM specialist Calxeda, there is a chance his networking fabric skills could be put to work on other chips, such as Power or – if Intel is as serious about its secretive customization efforts as it has led El Reg to believe – plain old x86.

That said, the broad customization capabilities of ARM chips, combined with their low power consumption, would seem to indicate that these chips would be an area of huge interest to Google and its world-spanning, electricity-gulping data centers.

When contacted by El Reg, ARM declined to comment. ®

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