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Azul: Speed increase for second-gen Java servers

Azul Systems said new Java servers, using Vega 2 processors, run three times faster than predecessors. Photos: Azul's new Java servers

Azul Systems has begun selling a new line of Java servers, centralized processing resources that the company says get a speed boost from the second-generation Vega 2 processor.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based start-up announced two Vega 2-based models on Monday, the 3210 and 3220, both rack-mounted systems 8.75 inches tall. Compared to their predecessors, the new systems have three times the performance, said Chief Executive Stephen DeWitt.

The 3210, with a $49,995 starting price, has two Vega 2 chips, holds 48GB of memory and typically consumes 580 watts of power. The 3220 has four Vega 2 chips, holds up to 192GB of memory and consumes 1,000 watts, but Azul didn't release a price.

Azul's Java servers

In addition, the company will release two 24.5-inch-tall systems in the first half of 2007, one with up to eight Vega 2 processors, the other with 16, DeWitt said. The top-end model will accommodate as much as 768GB of memory.

Azul's systems are geared to run server-based Java applications; the machines supply a central pool of processing power that many general-purpose Java servers can tap into. This time around, the company also is boasting of performance: the forthcoming 16-processor model scored 873,000 operations per second on the SPECjbb2005 Java speed test, beating out the previous winner, a 128-processor Fujitsu server with a score of 812,000.

Certification to work with Java server software is another matter. While Azul extended its certification partnership with BEA Systems, it doesn't have one with other companies in the market, including patent ligitation foe Sun Microsystems and BEA's top rival, IBM, with its WebSphere product. And although the technology works with Microsoft's .Net software--a close cousin to Java--the company doesn't have any formal partnerships there either.

DeWitt declined to comment on his company's revenue, but said reaching profitability in 2007 is "possible."

The Vega 1 processor in Azul's first-generation systems had 24 cores and was built on a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing process allowing 130-nanometer features. Vega 2, with 48 cores, also is built by Taiwan Semiconductor, but on a 90-nanometer process that means more circuitry can be squeezed into the same surface area. The Vega 2 chip has 812 million transistors, about 4 times that of Vega 1, DeWitt said.

Azul announced several customers Monday. Among them is British Telecom, which ZDnet UK reported liked Azul's approach. The company was planning on purchasing 15 to 20 servers from Sun Microsystems, but instead will purchase six Azul systems and "a lot fewer" Sun systems.

Other customers include True Credit, Pegasus Solutions, NBX, BlueChipExpert and Selectica Fastraq, Azul said.