azul


An interesting conversation yesterday with folks from AMD, on what’s going to be happening with the next generation or two of their virtualisation technologies in Opteron.

There’s a lot to be said about “Trinity”, their secure virtualisation platform, and “Raiden”, a client model for blade servers – but the really interesting story is “Terrazzo”. This is where AMD opens up its HyperTransport pipeline to third-parties – as well as its socket specifications. So on a multicore, multiprocessor motherboard, you could drop in a physics coprocessor for fast gaming, or (and this is where I think things will get very interesting) a dedicated processor for additonal server functionality.

This is where AMD needs to talk to companies like Azul. Dropping one of Azul’s 48 core VM-specific processors onto a HyperTransport bus alongside a set of Opterons could really speed up your Java applications (with direct access to the system memory) – and get rid of all that nasty non-deterministic garbage collection…

AMD is taking the enterprise server game in a very different direction to Intel. Let’s see if the industry takes them up on it…

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I spent last Friday morning braving the delights of Highway 17 over the Santa Cruz mountains in the rain at Azul Systems' offices next door to Google in Mountain View, learning lots of interesting stuff about their Vega processor and their network attached processing tools, including their "pauseless" Java garbage collection.

You can read about some of my morning at The Register:

Adding storage to a network is straightforward; adding processing power tends to involve a lot more complexity. This is something Azul Systems aims to change. Following the recent announcement of its second generation Vega processor, is today’s news that BT will be using the company's processing appliances to handle both its existing web applications, as well as providing the foundation for a utility computing farm – part of BT’s 21st Century Network.

The Azul platform is more than just a box you connect to your network, which replaces software virtual machines. It’s also a set of tools for managing application performance and handling how you bill the rest of the business for CPU usage. Mainframe administrators will be familiar with these techniques, but they’re still new to the arrays of application servers that now run many of our businesses. Being able to bill for actual CPU and memory usage is a key part of any utility computing platform – whether it’s Sun’s $1 per CPU per hour or an IT department billing the rest of the business for application operations.

They've got quite an impressive server room too, especially when you realise that each of those boxes has 384 cores – so that's the equivalent of 9600 CPUs in this rack alone:

Not bad – and what's more important, not too power hungry.