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New Startups Tout Java, XML Gear

As clustered servers running on desktop-class x86 processors become more common in data centers, more startup companies are emerging to sell add-on hardware and software to enhance the performance of Java and XML processing.

The x86 chips from companies like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) are good at low-latency tasks like running office suites and transaction processing, but they lack the ideal bandwidth for parsing emerging data center technologies such as Java and XML code, experts say.

The new generation of 64-bit server chips addresses this, but meanwhile many companies are working on custom products to plug the x86 gaps.

"That's really the direction, the general theme, that I think has been interesting," says Basil Horangic, a partner at venture capital firm Austin Ventures. Add-on processing hardware and software is a cyclical trend, and engineers realized it as far back as the 1960s, so Java and XML are just the latest drivers, he explains.

One such company is self-funded Tangosol Inc., in Somerville, Mass., which will launch software called Coherence 2.4 in the next few weeks, president Cameron Purdy says. Coherence performs in-memory processing of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: SUNW) Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE), which is software for making applications run over the Web. Java applications running in data centers don't scale linearly, so Coherence 2.4 will try to help by clearing its data cache faster, and a 3.0 version planned by the end of this year will include WAN clustering and global load balancing, Purdy says. Coherence costs $5,000 per CPU, with an average of 16 to 64 CPUs per installation, he adds.

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