Checkmate: Azul Platform Prime stops Chess.com’s gaming glitches in their tracks


It’s an axiom of modern application performance: the more advanced an application, the more demands it places on the infrastructure. This is true in big data, commerce, cybersecurity, and a range of other use cases. This is also true in the world of chess, a game that saw a resurgence in popularity a year ago following Netflix’s Emmy-winning miniseries, The Queen’s Gambit, which follows the rise of a chess prodigy, world famous basement chess matches.

Today we are talking about online chess, in particular Chess.com, the world’s largest online chess site. The Chess.com app is quite the workhorse; it has over 65 million members and over 250,000 simultaneous users playing over 10 million games online. Everyday.

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Whether face to face or online, the playing experience is everything for chess players. Any disturbance, be it noise, ambient temperature, or (in the case of online chess) slow software, can ruin a player’s concentration and change the outcome of the match.

Chess.com has faced this same problem, the victim of its own massive success and exploding player base. With millions of users, the app often produced delays of several seconds between player turns. This interrupted the flow of the game, made it less enjoyable and damaged user loyalty. Additionally, internal Java developers were unable to resolve the issue, despite their considerable efforts to sort out the code for the Java programming language used to create the Chess.com application.

The cause of these application delays? The so-called “Stop-The-World” garbage collector stops. That is, pauses in Java code resulting from a process that frees memory on the infrastructure running the application. Garbage collection is a responsibility of Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) that are used to run Java application code.

This is where Azul comes in. Chess.com uses Azul Prime platform, a high-performance Java runtime environment used by capital markets companies, manufacturers, e-commerce sites, and digital advertisers – anyone who needs better application and infrastructure performance. Using Azul Platform Prime defeated garbage collection issues in Chess.com’s Java applications and in its Java-based technologies, such as Jetty. In doing so, it has completely removed app locks and improved reliability and gaming experience. Azul’s solution was also a win for developers, increasing productivity by swapping out their underlying JVM without any modification or adjustment to their actual Java code.

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Azul Platform Prime improves the performance and scalability of Java ecosystems with a highly optimized runtime environment that ensures consistent response times, reduces system freezes, and delivers a better customer experience, all with much less infrastructure. It increases the number of transactions from the same hardware and speeds up Java performance even when the loads increase. As a result, it can reduce capital expenditure for servers by up to 50%, reduce operating expenses for cloud services without overprovisioning, and generate continued value.

In the words of Chess.com CEO Erik Allebest: “Since Azul Platform Prime powers our Java platform, we don’t have to worry about application speed or infrastructure costs. We can focus on the experience of our members and rest assured that Azul Platform Prime will handle thousands of hits per second with the best possible performance on the world’s best chess website.


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