Applied Micro Circuits frightens Intel

godApplied Micro Circuits has begun shipping a new kind of low-power server chip that might cause its rival Intel a headache in the data centre business.

Applied Micro Circuits announced it is shipping its new X-Gene “microserver” 64-bit chips, made with ARM designs. X-Gene is being touted as a Server-on-a-Chip which combines 10/40g mixed signal I/O with top-of-class, ARMv8 64-bit cores running at up to 2.4 Ghz, with an enterprise-class memory subsystem.

The company said that it has already made a million dollars from the chips and expects “meaningful” revenue from the chips in the quarters ending in December and March as shipments build.

Chief Executive Officer Paramesh Gopi told analysts on a conference call that there was a backlog for X-Gene, both in the September quarter and December quarter, as well as the March quarter.

Microservers have yet to be meaningfully adopted, but the belief is that data centres can be made more cost effective and energy efficient by using them.

Chipzilla will lose shedloads if the server market moves towards such technology and cannot lose even a few percentage points of market share.

Intel spokesman Bill Calder said that while Intel was not taking the competition lightly, he thought that the much-hyped threat of ARM servers getting any significant market segment share any time soon has been vastly overplayed.

Microservers will probably end up in data centres run by major Internet companies and for use in high-performance computing.

Intel executives in the past have said microserver chips being developed by Applied Micro Circuits, Advanced Micro Devices and other small rivals were unproven and not a serious threat to its server chip business.

In the past couple of years, Intel has launched its own low-power chips, designed with its own architecture, in anticipation of a potential move toward microservers.