Facebook’s hardware design head joins ARM server maker Calxeda’s board

ARM just keeps creeping on Intel’s dominance in the data center. Today’s news is that Facebook’s  head of hardware design and supply chain operations Frank Frankovsky will join low power server ARM startup Calxeda’s board of directors.

It’s a big win for Calxeda since Facebook has the potential to be a sizable purchaser of ARM servers. Perhaps more importantly, Calxeda would gain big credibility if its servers are humming in Facebook’s data centers, opening the door to many future customers.

The Register reports:

And just last week the fantastically named Frank Frankovsky told us in an unrelated chat that “the really cool thing about the ARM ecosystem is end users [such as Facebook] could become architectural licensees,” and stressed that just as Facebook is beginning to do custom chips with Intel, it is also interested in some of the opportunities posed by the power-sipping ARM chips that are beginning to come out for servers.

Facebook doesn’t necessarily want to design and build its own chips, he said, insisting that it would only need to do that if it was “ineffective at influencing [ARM] suppliers.” You can’t get much better influence over a company than being on the board of a company working in that space.

It’s interesting to hear Frankovsky still hold out the option of getting an architectural license and  Facebook designing its own chips. As the market drifts towards a handful of enormous purchasers with specific needs, the server makers and chip makers have no choice but to adapt to the custom processing requirments of its clients or risk that the customers will gain the expertise themselves to build their own hardware.

Needless to say, today’s news is a big step in ARM further edging open the door to the data center.