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Java spiked with picoJava

Nine months after disclosing plans for Java processors, Sun Microsystems releases new details about its picoJava I technology, claiming that it is expected to deliver up to 20 times the performance of current Intel processors running Java.

Nine months after disclosing plans for Java processors, Sun Microsystems (SUNW) today released new details about its picoJava I technology, claiming that it is expected to deliver up to 20 times the performance of current Intel processors running Java.

The performance advantage of the picoJava I "core," the heart of future Java processors, over Intel x86 processors is based on a comparison with Intel Pentium processors running interpreters, which translate and execute Java code, Sun said.

The picoJava I will also speed the work of just-in-time Java compilers by a factor of five, Sun said.

The picoJava I core is the first "milestone" in a series of JavaChip processors under development by Sun Microelectronics. The first picoJava processors are expected to appear in the second half of 1997.

The architecture features a RISC-style four-stage pipeline with a Java instruction set. Designers will be able to configure the picoJava core with or without a floating point unit, and with up to 16K of instruction and data cache for flexibility in setting manufacturing costs, Sun added.

Sun is targeting picoJava for use in "smart" phones, set-top boxes, network computers and PDAs. Companies already developing products around the chip include Xerox, which plans to make Java-based office equipment, and Canadian telephone equipment maker Northern Telecom, which plans to embed picoJava in residential, office, and wireless telephones.

LG Semicon, Mitsubishi Electric America, Samsung, and NEC have also said they intend to build chips and products with picoJava I technology. Some of these companies are expected to roll out set-top Internet boxes.

In related news, Sun is expected to introduce its first Java-based NC on October 29, according to sources. JavaStation, which has been developed under the code name Mr. Coffee, will be used initially in settings such as airline reservation systems that only run one application on a continuous basis. Sources said JavaStation will initially use a SPARC chip, but in the future, will incorporate Java microchips.