HP is working with Intel on the development of the Merced processor, due in 1999. The 64-bit chip will mark Intel's biggest push yet into the heart of corporate computer networks now populated by systems based on processors such as HP's PA-RISC, Sun Microsystem's UltraSparc, IBM's PowerPC, and Digital's Alpha.
When server and workstation systems using the next-generation Intel chip become available, there will be a number of operating systems available to run applications on. These include various flavors of the Unix operating system (OS)--HP's is called HP-UX--as well as Microsoft's Windows NT OS. The operating system is the software that controls the basic hardware functions of a computer.
Java, on the other hand, is an interpreted language that runs on top of the OS, meaning that Java programs can run on any OS since they are translated on the fly.
By "porting" Java to Merced, HP hopes to jump-start interest in its version of the Unix operating system, analysts say. However, "Every operating system supplier, client, or server is including Java on the client and on the server," says Dan Kusnetsky, program director for operating environments with International Data Corporation.
"HP is hoping to convince Java developers that HP-UX is the operating system they should run on Merced," says Kusnetsky. "I'm not sure this is enough to make HP-UX the focal point of developers."