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Startup Takes Wraps Off New Multicore Computer Appliance

A Silicon Valley startup aims to reduce the number of servers it takes to run virtual machine-based applications.

The Azul Compute Appliance from Azul Systems, to be unveiled this week, has been in field trials since last fall and is slated for availability by the end of this quarter, said Matt McLaughlin, vice president of worldwide field operations at the Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor.

>> Azul optimizes VM-based apps so they can
access compute power on an as-needed basis.

The company designed the appliance to optimize VM-based applications such as those built on the Java and Microsoft .Net platforms so they can access compute power on an as-needed basis without leveraging existing hardware, he said. This will drive down the long-term cost for enterprises running high-transactional applications that require large amounts of server capacity.

Azul designed its own multicore microprocessors for the appliances, which come in three configurations: a four-chip, 96-processor appliance that costs $90,000; an eight-chip, 192-processor configuration that costs $200,000; and a high-end appliance with 15 chips and 284 processors that costs between $500,000 and $800,000.

The system also includes software that enables VM-based applications to access the appliance's resources whenever they need more power, he said.

While Azul does not currently have direct competitors for its technology, customers would buy it as an alternative to purchasing more hardware from vendors such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell or Sun Microsystems, McLaughlin said.

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