29th > August > 2005 Archive

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Brazil cuffs 85 in online bank hack dragnet

In briefIn brief Brazilian federal police last week cuffed 85 people across seven states suspected of hacking online bank accounts and netting $33m, Reuters reports. The arrests were the culmination of a four-month investigation, codenamed "Operation Pegasus", which generated 105 arrest warrants. A total of 410 officers took part in the swoop. ®
Lester Haines, 29 Aug 2005

Student constructs hamster-powered mobe charger

We've often wondered for what purpose exactly hamsters were put upon this earth, and now we know: to charge mobile phones. Sixteen-year-old Peter Ash, of Somerset, finally cracked this age-old poser after his long-suffering sister complained of pet hamster Elvis scuttling away for hours during his nocturnal exercise wheel regime. Ash told Ananova: "I thought the wheel could be made to do something useful so I connected a system of gears and a turbine." He then patched the output to his mobe's charger and voila! - free hamster energy at around thirty minutes' talktime for every two hamster wheel minutes. Surprisingly - and considering all the current moaning about falling exam standards, etc, etc - Ash only got a "C" for this contribution to his GSCE science course and, undoubtedly, a clean-energy future for all our children. Perhaps if he'd knocked together a desktop cold fusion reactor powered by supercharged, neutron-emitting guinea pigs suspended in deuterium gas he might have earned himself an "A". ®
Lester Haines, 29 Aug 2005

Microsoft will make you pay for Virtual Server

No one would mistake Microsoft's server virtualization software team for a smooth operator. The group managed to change its stance on two issues during last week's Intel Developer Forum (IDF) event, telling customers they'll have to pay for an update to Virtual Server 2005 and shifting the release date for revamped virtualization software for the "Longhorn" Server operating system. In the fourth quarter, Redmond will pump out Virtual Server 2005 R2. Customers will have to cough up an undisclosed fee for this upgrade instead of obtaining it as a gratis maintenance release, as once planned. A Microsoft rep bragged that beta testers were wowed by the quicker code - a possible reason for putting out the pay-to-play upgrade. "The latest release of Virtual Server has made significant performance gains," said Mike Neil, product unit manager for Virtual Server at Microsoft, during a session at IDF in San Francisco. "Overall, customers are finding that Virtual Server R2 has significantly reduced their CPU overhead." Such improvements would certainly be welcomed given Virtual Server's rather lackluster reputation in the server virtualization market. At present, EMC's VMware division holds the clear market share lead and receives ample praise for running multiple copies of Linux or Windows on the same server or workstation well. XenSource - the major company shepherding the open source Xen virtualization package to market - is a new entrant in the space and has yet to secure any major customer wins or at least to tell anyone about them. Microsoft too remains reticent to divulge how many firms buy Virtual Server - a product acquired from Connectix in 2003 and punished by the same delays that haunt so many Microsoft efforts "Microsoft has a very broad user base," Neil said in answer to our question about the size of the Virtual Server customer list during a panel session. "There are 5,000 customers in our beta program right now." How many of those customers pay for the product in the end? "We don't go into specifics on sales information." By contrast, VMware boasts thousands of paying enterprise customers. Need a case of VS? Should you go ahead and pay for the Virtual Server 2005 upgrade? Maybe not. In the second half of 2006, a product likely called Virtual Server 2006 will ship with support for Intel's Virtualization Technology - said to make the basics of creating a virtual or abstracted software layer much easier. In addition, that OS will have support for Linux guest operating systems. Then, Microsoft plans to release a new hypervisor form of virtualization software that will replace Virtual Server. Up to this point, Microsoft had indicated most strongly that the hypervisor would appear in an update to Longhorn server - sometime in 2009 or, god forbid, even 2011. Neil, however, admitted that would be an awfully longtime for customers to wait and expressed his wish that the hypervisor slide right into Longhorn's release in 2007. "I'm certainly hoping it will not be until 2009," he said. "From our perspective, we have to be very careful. It is the lowest layer of software in the component stack. It is something we want to make sure we do well and do right." Neil added that the hypervisor will likely be in beta for close to one year. ®
Ashlee Vance, 29 Aug 2005

Intel abandons GHz war, embraces cool future

IDF in ReviewIDF in Review As we understand it, there are some of you who have lives or at least other things to do. So, you may not have traveled out to San Francisco for last week's Intel Developer Forum (IDF). (Or, maybe you work at AMD, and they had you locked down at a workstation, trying to get a production edge.) Lucky for you, El Reg had plenty of bodies at IDF, and we're pleased to present a review of our coverage. Go ahead - click around. ® Desktop Dandy Pentium 4 VT plans confirmed by Intel Intel preps 'GPS for Wi-Fi' location tech Intel to use next-gen architecture for CE SoCs Intel announces 'desktrino' home PC platform Intel, Panasonic prep 12-hour laptop battery Intel confirms Yonah, Sossaman will offer virtualisation Intel to bring Lakeport graphics to Napa Intel, Cisco team to boost business WLANs Otellini stakes low-power future on strained silicon Intel intros 1.25GHz XScale Intel: Sensors are of mote Intel: We're all office warriors now Server Spotlight Microsoft will make you pay for Virtual Server Intel looks to 'Dunnington' multi-core Xeon future IBM shows Xeon-based server fatty Brute force attack planned by Intel to blunt AMD's edge XenSource tests door to Windows and profits Intel confirms Yonah, Sossaman will offer virtualisation Intel tweaks EM64T for full AMD64 compatibility Intel answers AMD's dual-core chip challenge with French joke Intel looks to low-power, high-performance chip future Token AMD story Brash AMD says server chip future is two years back
Ashlee Vance, 29 Aug 2005

US taxpayers asked to build dams in China?

Should US taxpayers fund public works projects in China? Such a reality may be closer than you think if Chinese PC maker Lenovo gets its way in North Carolina. Only a handful of Reg readers complained about Lenovo's request for $14m and a host of other incentives to keep the jobs it inherited from IBM in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park area. But did you know that Chinese holding company Legend claims a 41 per cent stake in Lenovo and that the biggest shareholder in Legend - the Chinese Academy of Sciences - enjoys 65 per cent ownership of Legend? It wouldn't take much for a lucrative incentives package to make its way from the tobacco fields of the Tar Heel State right into the Three Gorges Dam. The Star News summed up much of the situation in an Op-Ed piece titled "Lining up to blackmail us." Many of you might be curious as to exactly what Lenovo is looking for, and we can get you pretty close to that information. We've obtained a confidential document making its way around the Durham Chamber of Commerce. And with that, we give you "Project Grace." From: Ted Conner Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 6:49 PM To: Titus, Carolyn Subject: Project Grace - Economic Development - Confidential Carolyn- Notes from my meeting last week regarding Lenovo, also known as Project Grace.  Confidential Project Grace Meeting at City Hall: August 9, 2005. 1. Gary Joyner, Attorney, Kilpatrick Stockton 2. Karen Ondrick, Government and Community Relations, Lenovo 3. Brian Jesinkey, Manager-US State and Local taxes 4. Barney Earles, Senior Vice President, CB Richard Ellis (Real Estate Broker) 5. Rick Weddle, President & CEO, Research Triangle Foundation 6. Liz Rooks, Vice President, Planning and Development, Research Triangle Foundation 7. Kevin Johnson, Vice President, Business Development, Research Triangle Foundation 8. Alan Delisle, City of Durham 9. Trisha Gensic, City of Durham 10. Ted Conner, Durham Chamber of Commerce Lenovo, the Chinese company that purchased IBM’s personal computer division is currently located in IBM leased space, but has begun the process of searching for its own space. Lenovo employs approximately 1,800 folks in RTP. Lenovo does not manufacture personal computers itself, the current activities involve the research, design, manufacturing coordination (but not the actual manufacturing), supply chain management, marketing and administrative functions. Lenovo contracts with Sanmina, also located in Durham, to perform its US market manufacturing. Sanmina manufactures products that are specified to be labeled “Made in the USA” by its clients. Sanmina employs approximately 300 workers here in Durham. Brian Jesinkey stated that Lenovo does plan to add 400 new employees over the next several years. These jobs would come from job tasks that Lenovo currently subcontracts with other companies to perform.  Lenovo is reviewing Triangle (Durham & Wake counties) proposals for the development of a new campus of approximately 600,000 sq. ft. of office and electronics lab space. The company is strongly considering the development of new space rather than the renovation of existing space. For the construction of the space, the normal cost of such space would run approximately $125/sq. ft. or a project value of approximately $75,000,000.  A draft job creation/investment chart is as follows (I am waiting on verification): Date of Occupancy 1/1/2007 6/1/2009 Total Space 300,000 - 350,000 sf .ft. 200,000 - 250,000 sq. ft. Investment $37,500,000 - $43,750,000 $25,000,000 - $31,250,000 $62,500,000 - $75,000,000 Employees 1,000 - 1,300 800 - 1,000 1,800 - 2,200 Net New Employees 0 400 400 Lenovo, through its legal representation, provided an incentives proposal that in essence requested a full incentive package allowable under the City and County investment policies. I did comment that I observed that the maximum had been requested as the starting point for discussions.  The company is considering Atlanta, and Singapore locations as well for some or all of the space. Important issues to the company are as such: 1. Human capital 2. Occupancy costs (real estate and fixed costs) and ability to grow (space) 3. International transportation 4. Ability to occupy space/location for long term commitment 5. Need to feel wanted 6. University support With respect to non-RTP Durham sites, Alan and I agreed based upon the comments from the company that Lenovo seems to prefer RTP for their primary Durham location choice.  We pushed for the downtown, but the company representatives said that their workforce is regional and that a location distant from RTP to the north would not be a workable location. No detailed discussions regarding specific incentives were conducted, the discussion focused on outlining the company’s space and workforce plans. No commitments nor opinions regarding incentives were provided either. Rick Weddle made the point of saying that he thought that it was not a good idea for the company to pit one county against an adjacent county (Durham vs Wake) for incentives. He also was less than pleased that the company was looking outside of RTP. In speaking with the State, they are not pleased about this process either. The company is seeking to have development, state and community proposals completed by August 29. The company stated that they will be moving quickly to determine their preferred site/community. Ted Conner Vice President, Economic Development Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce ®
Ashlee Vance, 29 Aug 2005
channel

Savings, not skills, driving outsourcing

There's been a substantial drop in the number of companies outsourcing application development in order to utilize external skills, as more companies instead turn to outsourcing for cost savings. Just 19 per cent of those companies polled are outsourcing to tap their suppliers' expertise, down from 44 per cent in the year 2000, according to Evans Data Corp (EDC). Twenty eight per cent said cost savings was their main reason for going out of house - up from 15 per cent. Evans, which polled 400 developers for its Summer 2005 enterprise development survey, said there has been a transition in needs from firefighting to solve the year 2000 problem to on-going, low-cost management of corporate systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). John Andrews, Evans chief operating officer, said: "Huge resources are being eaten up by enterprise applications. Back in that period [solving the Year 2000 bug] there was a skills shortage. Enterprises have [since] been maintaining those applications and cost savings has become a huge issue on their plate." Unsurprisingly, outsourcing is expected to increase. Nearly half of respondents said their companies currently outsource less than a quarter of development while just seven percent outsource more than half of the development process. A third plan to increase their use of outsourcing during the next year. The top three software development projects going out of house are service oriented architectures (SOAs), supply chain management and security, according to the analyst firm. Nearly 80 per cent said SOA and supply chain management projects would be outsourced with 77 per cent saying security would go out of house. ®
Gavin Clarke, 29 Aug 2005

This Commons Just Isn’t Creative

LettersLetters What is creativity? How much does it rely on computers? And is copyright today abused so badly by rights holders that we face a new Dark Ages? We threw up some of these questions in a long ramble last month, and received one of the most thoughtful postbags ever. Because the piece touched on so many areas, not surprisingly, the views you expressed range far and wide. Amongst supporters of "Creative Commons" licenses, there's a firm conviction that draconian times call for ingenious measures. But the view is countered by a widespread puzzlement that creativity is in any kind of crisis at all. The use of an irrevocable Commons license, which effectively ends any hope of the artist being compensated by the creative industries, doesn't seem fair or sensible for most readers. For artists who's God-given talent is perhaps the only route to a better life, this seems quite a sacrifice. And most readers find "remix culture" more than a bit old hat. Derivative and boring, you say. How would Ray Charles felt about Creative Commons? I don't know, how did he feel about those old gospel songs in the public domain that he co-oped, changed up a bit, made secular and then made a ton of money with? Or maybe if the bit in the movie where he borrows the song from his producer and makes a hit out of it was real, Ray might like the idea of sharing, combining and creating.
Tim Boerger Well put, Tim, but the great man was one of the first artists in history to demand the ownership of the master recordings. He doesn't sound like someone who would sign an irrevocable license allowing others to profit from his work. A Tin Cup awaits. Mike Scott has a good point, too. It seems very strange that you focus so much on paying the creator when under the *current* system something in excess of 99% of all creative works are created with no expectation of payment. What Creative Commons is doing is working out ways in which to enable wider use and reuse of this content, which as I say represents the vast majority of all creative work. Indeed it does. . But don't one hit wonders deserve their day in the sun, too? Issuing the material under a reuse license may earn them a pat on the back from an expensive American law school, but it pretty much guarantees they won' be compensated. I think you miss the point of the Creative Commons copyright [sic]. Surely it is intended for people who do not want to make money from their works. Surely it is intended to relax the automatic laws of copyright and yet retain some level of recognition and control without having to incur the expense of retaining a copyright lawyer. This makes sense. It makes sense that the 99% of uncreative geeks out there, who have no hope of making any money out of their 'creative' works, can rant to their hearts content on their weblogs happy in the knowledge that their utopian vision remains complete. For the larger picture of copyright law and compensation for real creative genius, creative commons is irrelevant – it is not intended for this. Of course I may be completely wrong. Brendhan Callaghan Another reader has a nice illustration of where Creative Commons tags can be really useful, however. I don't think the major goal for Creative Commons is to have Madonna or Robbie Williams release their latest songs under a CC license. Its more about creating a system where mostly hobbyists can cooperate and share creative works. Facilitating that in a similar way to how the GPL and BSD licenses have helped computer programmers cooperate and create things such as the GNU/Linux system. For instance when I was back in school I was looking for some digital images of various national flags to put into a paper I was writing. The thing was even with the search engines around back then I had trouble finding what I wanted and I was also unsure about the legality of using any images I found (to this day I am not sure if an image of a national flag is copyrightable or not). Anyway this experience directly lead to my setting up creating a open repository of flags in SVG format many years later, and while I decided from the start that I wanted it to be in the public domain, having the creative commons website there to both refer to for information about copyright, but also providing the technical and practical tools to put the images into the public domain was a great help. Today the flag collection covers all national flags, most major international institutions, a wide range of subnational flags and many important historic flags. Being able to do this in the context of the Creative Commons led to over a 100 people contributing various flags to the collection, many of them with very hard designs. I guess your counterargument is that I could have just made the 5 simple nordic cross flags I did myself and then become rich selling those, personally I don't see that as a very likely scenario. Creative Commons creates a sphere in which it is easy for the average person to find creative works to use in conjunction with their own. Be that poems to go with the drawing they make or music to go with the animation they make, or the other way around. Doing these kinda things outside the sphere of creative commons is to hard, cause you need to get permission which will at best cost you a lot of time. And not to mention that most of the 'creative' entertainment companies would give you an automatic 'no' even if what you asked them to do falls well inside what would be your fair use rights. Christian Schaller Christian identifies the permission anxiety nicely. Machine readable tags will undoubtedly help too. But for many Creative Commons supporters it isn't simply a convenience - advocates boast of "liberating" countries with the scheme. Since the original discussion was confined to how added literal licenses could help foster creative music culture, it isn't the answer we were looking for, we can perhaps agree. But many readers take issue with the assumptions behind the scheme. One picks up on the Lessig quote, "There's a class of speech that's not possible at all without P2P technologies". Rubbish, says Andy Bright. I disagree. With a $20 bill and a trip to Best Buy, or a credit card and a trip to Amazon this class of speech is entirely possible. With either tool I can get the exact same thing as with a P2P connection - true I will miss out on the bonus adware and eventual lawsuit, but those types of speech I can do without. As for "Creative Commons", sounds like more people trying to justify ripping off other people's work by saying - well the only way the world won't stop is if everybody gives away everything for free. The reality is that when you work your arse off to produce something, and nobody pays you for your effort, you're choices become, do what I love and starve or do something else and eat. I'd like to see the looks on the faces of these people if their employers decided not to pay them anything anymore. I wonder how many would keep working, and yet they expect artists of every sort to keep producing music, movies, books, paintings, or whatever for free for the benefit of everyone except themselves. Another picks up on the assumption that creativity needs computers. "the punks proved all you needed was three chords and some imagination. " but Status Quo did it first. Chris Elvidge James Pickett has also noticed that admitting to liking folk or country has lost its stigma. "Admitting a liking for country used to be social death in the UK," he points out. Several Commonistas insist that both your reporter and PC Magazine columnist John C Dvorak have "missed the point", and that the licensing offers a genuine third way between copyright and public domain. And these advocates offered the boilerplate argument that a Creative Commons license confers additional freedoms to the creator. Here's where it starts to get really interesting. I can't speak for Mr Dvorak, but I can safely say we haven't missed this point it all. Take this example. A Linux advocacy group emails me to ask permission for a reprint of an article, and I'm delighted to grant it. The Daily Express asks for permission, and I tell them where to shove it. Now that's a freedom I don't have by adding an unnecessary license to my work. Now let's say the Linux advocacy group has been taken over by people I don't like. It asks for another reprint. I can change my mind, of course, but that's because I haven't signed over my rights under an irrevocable license. (And very few people tagging their work with Creative Commons licenses seem to realize that they're irrevocable). So the argument is really about whether a literal and codified license is necessary or not. And literal types, such as lawyers, naturally think that it is. But when we hand things over to lawyers or bureaucrats, they tend to design systems which create lots of work for lawyers and bureaucrats. This doesn't necessirily benefit us. And you'd think that asking for permission was truly a pants-wetting, Armageddon experience. It isn't. The proof seems to be the vast amount of copyrighted material that's becoming available online, almost everywhere you look. So what makes people feel the end of the world is nigh? As so often happens, this is something you pick up and run with. Excellent article about Creative Commons, well done. It's amazing how many campaigns have less to do with a real cause and more to do with a fashionable posture. It's like people think they're doing good, but really they just want to look good. Kris Which is certainly reflected in the postbag. Don't knock Creative Commons, because at least they're doing something... anything. But badge-wearing isn't enough, you reckon. I think the whole techo-utopian mindset, which is trumpeted with such fervour by bloggers and Harvard Law professors, but takes hold, at one time or another, of most techies to a certain degree, stems from the fact that real-world applications of technology take a ridiculously long time to get implemented, and this frustrates us techies to no end. You see, just looking at the technology we have available today, we know that very soon we'll be using these all-singing all-dancing gadgets with constant connectivity that will allow us access to just about every piece of information known to man from any device anywhere. We know physical distribution of information is a dinosaur concept on its way out. I know my future kids (I'm in my late 20s) will find it ridiculously quaint that in order to watch a movie I had to go to a store, buy this plastic box with a shiny disc inside, stick in a black device and fiddle with a remote control, or that I actually had to physically transport the disc to my friend's house when I wanted to watch the movie there. They'll scratch their heads when I tell them what a wonderful revelation it was to be able to skip the going to the store bit and actually order the disc from my computer (but not my TV!) and have it delivered several days later. For them, any content will be a few clicks away at the nearest screen, whether it's in the living room, on their mobile device or in the seatback in front of them on a transatlantic flight. What bugs the techno-utopians, or those of us who unwittingly stray into that mindset when we've been reading too many of their blogs, is that we have the actual, raw technology to do all this right now. The average non-techie is still in awe of the shiny discs and amazon's super saver delivery, but we techies are already frustrated that the world doesn't get its act together and offer us this wonderful networked future here and now. What we don't realise is that it takes time for the world to get its act together. It takes time to build the infrastructure, agree on the protocols, and most importantly, figure out how and who to pay for the privilege. As you so elegantly demonstrate, nobody disagrees with the end goal of all these new technologies, nor with the inevitability of us reaching it. But it's the techno-utopians that fail to see that we can't get from shiny discs to ubiquitous infoportals in a day, and the road is going to be hard, bumpy, and they're going to be dozens of double-backs and dead-ends on the way. Now if only we'd be a little more patient maybe we would get there a while sooner. Stephanos Piperoglou What makes a techno utopian tick? Reader Andy has a few ideas that get to the core. Your article on Creativity, Computers and Copyright reaffirms three concepts that are usually unvoiced, but underlie geekdom: 1 - That the geek experience somehow supplants all previous culture and creative expression. Previous measures of literary worth, the skill of a composer or the talent of a film director don't apply to new media simply because it's on a different platform. Hence piss-poor blogs, flash-rendered animals dancing to looped samples and ultimately the Crazy Frog. I have some suspicion that this reflects the relative youth and limited cultural education of a generation of engineers. 2 - That the process is more important than the result, cooler still if it involves a new computer and coolest if blue LEDs are involved. This is endemic in technologists - from the desire that every item in our house should have a network connection, to the idea that the order in which you click on things in a webshop is somehow patentable. Though that latter example sits badly with the Open Source crowd, it's bourn of the natural tendancy of computer engineers to focus on the means rather than the end. Here, complex license schemes are the means and the end remains vaguely defined and as far off as ever. 3 - That creativity is an unlimited resource, only held back by the limitations of the distribution network and these damn tools. If we could only put video cameras in the hands of every person on the planet, and provide universal access to the results, thousands of new film makers will be discovered. This is a fallacy that has surfaced with each technological step in media - from satellite television to web blogs. The only grain of truth is that we're steadily approaching the event horizon of a million monkeys - though as yet Shakespeare has not been sighted. Keep up the good work, Andy Toone Thanks Andy. The point about mistaking means for ends seems to be very appropriate. Recently we noticed some net nerds have been forming social clubs under the banner "Free Culture". Good for them, we say, and let's hope they get laid - the whole point of joining any club. But who on earth demands that culture be "Free"? From two reccie missions we conducted - purely for research purposes, of course - into Amoeba Records today and downtown midnight San Francisco last night revealed thousands of people willingly handing over their earnings to enjoy culture. Their only demand being that it be "Good Culture". So some people can be too clever for their own good. What else did we miss? Write and tell us. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Aug 2005

BMC and CFO have feelings of mutual resignation

BMC hit investors and customers with unexpected news on Monday, revealing that its CFO George Harrington has resigned. The software maker characterized the change as one of "mutual agreement." It tapped Treasurer Stephen Solcher as interim CFO and announced a hunt for a permanent replacement. In a show of confidence, BMC released a canned quotation to celebrate Solcher's past achievements, "Steve has been a driving force in the transformation of BMC through his leadership in finance, accounting and our ongoing acquisition activities," said CEO Bob Beauchamp. "Moving forward with Steve as interim CFO, we are assigning a proven veteran performer to this key position while we complete our search." Did Harrington merit a canned statement too? You bet. "I want to thank George for his service to BMC," said Beauchamp. "Under his leadership we successfully completed our year-end financial audit, strengthened our balance sheet, and significantly improved our cost structure. George and I agreed that with these important milestones behind us, and with our recently posted positive quarterly results, the timing of his departure was optimal for him and for BMC." Analysts picked up on the peculiar nature of the resignation and press statement, calling Harrington's departure "unusual" and of "curious timing." And, in fact, the move does appear as a shocker given that BMC just came off its best quarter in ages. It reported solid first quarter results and provided an optimistic outlook on the coming year. Investors welcomed such news over BMC's more typical lowering of expectations and revelations of job cuts that filled 2005. Shares of BMC dipped just 2 per cent, at the time of writing, to $20.00. ®
Ashlee Vance, 29 Aug 2005
DVD it in many colours

Server start-up says Dell is too hot to be cheap

Start-up Azul Systems has made an example out of Dell by pitching the server giant as a seller of hot, pricey gear. Azul packed a whopping 1,248 processor cores and 800GB of memory in a single, standard server rack and drew just 9.1kW - 137 cores per kW. Not one to shy away from entering a rival system in a challenge, Azul then stacked a rack full of two-way, 1U PowerEdge 1850 systems from Dell. Stuck with just single core chips, Dell could only muster 84 cores and up to 672GB of memory in the rack. It did, however, beat Azul in one aspect - power consumption. The Dell rack hummed away to the tune of 23.1 kW - or just 3.64 cores per kW. All told, Azul pumped out 37.7 times better cores/kW than Dell and required 60 per cent less energy than Dell to power 15 times more cores. And we know this because Azul told us so in a press release. “Azul offers better economics than Dell which is seen in the marketplace as the pinnacle of economic efficiency," said Shahin Khan, chief marketing officer at Azul. Some of you are probably wondering what the hell an Azul Systems is, while other might ask, "So what?". To the first item, Azul makes a pretty unique type of server appliance. It starts with the 24-core Vega processor - designed in house - and then links a bunch of the chips together to form up to a 384-way screamer. Which bring us quickly to the second item. These multicore processor-powered boxes are built to run multithreaded software - in particular Java application servers and other virtual machine-happy apps. Azul claims that this design gives it a major performance edge over more traditional servers. The company, however, doesn't provide specific performance data publicly. And, as you might note from the Dell comparison, Azul keeps the discussion on power consumption and cores and doesn't say much about raw performance. Azul is playing on a common theme in the server industry, and that's a move to lower-power parts. At last week's Intel Developer Forum, Intel explained how it would progress far away from screaming hot single-core chips and toward lower-power multicore dynamos. Sun Microsystems and IBM also talk up similar strategies around parts of their server lines. While many remain hesitant to guarantee Azul as a long-term success, analysts do tend to praise the start-up for pushing servers far in a new direction. Michael Dell may be less forthcoming with such kind words. ®
Ashlee Vance, 29 Aug 2005