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Oracle To Buy ARM-backed Calxeda After Itanium Snub?

Back in September last year, Oracle's CEO, the flamboyant and controversial Larry Ellison, said that the company may be looking to buy a chipmaker and that mere suggestion sent the shares of ARM and AMD sky high.

Technically though, neither ARM or AMD make processors; AMD uses its partner, Globalfoundries, and ARM uses its array of partners which include (most) of the biggest technology companies in the world to produce billions of ARM-based modules.

The announcement yesterday that Oracle is giving up on Itanium did not affect Intel's shares significantly but the fact that it happened only a day before the company's earnings conference call could be interpreted as a change of direction for a company who is rapidly turning into the IBM of the 1960s.

Remember that Oracle started life as a software company but turned into a Big Iron vendor following the acquisition back in January 2010 of Sun Microsystems.

The company now produces servers, workstations, monitors, thin clients, storage devices, network products and much more; clearly Oracle wants to control its destiny more than ever before and shows no sign of moving away from being a hybrid software/hardware/service vendor just like IBM or HP.

Which brings us to Calxeda; the secretive chip designer came in the limelight briefly two weeks ago when an analyst at Forrester disclosed details about the work that the startup is doing in the niche market of low-power, high performance ARM-based processors.

Calxeda has a number of high profile investors like ARM, Texas Instruments and ATIC, the company behind Global Foundries (AMD's preferred foundry partner) and an experienced managerial team, most of which have worked in the enterprise server market (Newisys, Intel, AMD, Hewlett Packard, IBM) and would prove to be a precious asset for Oracle.

The main (only) product that Calxeda is working on is a quad core, Cortex-A9 system on chip that allows up to 480 cores to be crammed in a 2U enclosure and consumes 600W in total, including the DRAM, giving it a performance advantage of up to 10 times compared to the competition, which includes Intel and AMD.

Oracle's huge financial and human resources combined with the Cortex-A15 could push that performance delta even further (check Nvidia's prediction based on Project Denver).

Buying Calxeda would allow Oracle to move closer to the ultimate dream of controlling its entire ecosystem, hardware, software and services, not unlike what Apple did by building its own A4 and A5 system on chips and helping it become the world's biggest technology company. It would also send a powerful message to the enterprise community over the very future of so-called massive processors like the Itanium.

It would also allow Oracle to leverage the power of ARM's unique ecosystem while being able to customise its own designs, not unlike what ARM is doing with Microsoft over Windows 8. After all, Oracle owns a LOT of technology that interface and work either on or with ARM platforms with Java being the most well known.