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Azul Ships Data Center Servers

By Michael Singer (Send Email)
Posted Apr 19, 2005


Silicon Valley-based startup Azul Systems introduced its first product family today designed for data centers running J2EE or .NET. The Silicon Valley-based startup has released a batch of servers that avoids 'rip and replace.

As previously reported, former Cobalt CEO and Sun Microsystems executive Stephen DeWitt is behind the company's effort to provide "network attached processing." The concept is similar to virtualization and provisioning of compute cycles commonly found in cluster or grid environments.

While the appliances have been in field trials since last fall, Azul also announced an alliance with IBM Global Services, which will provide North American service and support for Azul's Compute Appliances.

Instead of a rip and replace of current systems, Azul touts its Compute Appliances as valuable additions to a network that can form compute pools allowing the applications to share a common managed resource.

Azul also said its appliances are set up to install with IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic platforms and JBoss and other open source J2EE platforms without any application-level modifications, binary compatibility requirements or operating system dependencies.

"It's clear that multi-core processors and network-attached processing will make IT planners rethink the value equation of today's infrastructure services," Vernon Turner, an analyst and group vice president at IT research firm IDC, said in a statement.

Compute Appliances comes in a 5U rack arrangement or an 11u rack configuration. A 96-way system with 32 GB of memory starts at $89,000. There is also a 192-way system available for $199,000, as well as two configurations with 384 coherent processor cores. One high-end system comes with 128 GB memory for $499,000. The top-end model sports 256GB memory, runs about 2.7 kilowatts -- about the same as a hairdryer -- and sells for $799,000.

As part of the system, Azul is also offering its policy-based Compute Pool Manager software, which allows for access from any server on the network. Shahin Khan, Azul's chief marketing officer, said this is different from virtual machines, because you can outsource compute capacity from a server to the Azul system. You really separate the compute from the computer, he added.

The other distinguishing factor in all of Azul's systems is the use of its own proprietary processor design. Instead of using an established chip like IBM's POWER or Sun's SPARC, the company contracted its blueprints to chip manufacturer TSMC to build a 64-bit symmetric multiprocessing RISC architecture chip with 24 cores known as Vega.

The chip supports object-oriented operations, pauseless garbage collection, 96GB of heap, and optimistic thread concurrency.

"As we went through the testing of these systems we realized there were 1,700 processor cores down this short aisle alone," Khan said. "We were computing not in single or dual core but in kilo-cores."

The systems will not officially be shipping until later this quarter, but already customers like network integrator EDS are already helping test them.

Azul is offering a 45-day, no-cost evaluation program with a lot of "handholding" for those customers who just want to kick the tires.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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