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Intel steps up Java accelerator

Chief executive Andy Grove announces a new version of the company's Vtune product, which is designed to accelerate Java on Intel hardware.

SAN JOSE, California--Intel chief executive Andy Grove today announced a new version of the company's Vtune product, which is designed to accelerate the performance of Java programs on Intel hardware.

In his keynote speech at the Netscape Communications' developers conference, Grove also touched on the impact the Internet is having on businesses and how Intel hardware is powering large servers connected to the Net.

Intel CEO Andy Grove holds up an 8-inch wafer at DevCon.
But perhaps more interesting than Grove's comments was the fact that he showed up at all. Intel has traditionally been a close ally of Microsoft, which in turn has been one of Netscape's chief rivals. His appearance at the Netscape conference illustrates how the company is staying neutral in the battle for Internet software supremacy.

Increasingly, Microsoft and Intel are pursuing partnerships and product developments outside of their marriage in the personal computer industry. Microsoft's Windows CE and WebTV software, for example, do not run on Intel hardware. (Intel is also an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

"It shows how convoluted the industry really is," said Kam Stewart, a software developer at Images in Light, as he waited for Grove's keynote to being today. "Everyone is hedging their bets."

But today Grove refrained from pledging undying loyalty to Netscape. In fact, a good part of his speech didn't have much to do with the Internet at all, instead focusing on improvements Intel is making in bus and multimedia performance of its microprocessors.

Grove also discussed hardware that is powering the large servers containing "data warehouses" on the Net and other networks. He was joined by Jerry Peterson, a senior vice president at Tandem Computers, in demonstrating a massive server "cluster", called 2Ton, which is 35 feet long and contains 2 terabytes of data.

However, Grove did say that the Internet is revolutionizing how businesses interact with each other and with consumers. On the Internet, he said, small businesses have a greater opportunity to compete with large companies.

"In the future, business will be conducted screen to screen," Grove said.

Grove also announced and demonstrated Vtune version 2.5, a tool that allows developers to test the performance over their Java applications. The tool will allow developers to optimize the performance of their Java applications only on Intel's hardware, not on other platforms such as PowerPC or SPARC. Vtune will be available in August.

"We want Java to run best on Intel architecture," Grove said.

In addition to Intel, a number of other companies made announcements associated with the Netscape developer conference today:

  • Intelligent Environments announced the availability of new Java class libraries for Amazon, the company's tool for building Web applications that connect to legacy systems.

  • Elemental Software shipped Drumbeat, a drag-and-drop Web application development environment.

  • Diffusion announced that its IntraExpress "push" technology server will be able to broadcast information to Netscape's Netcaster technology. IntraExpress will also be able to send messages to Netscape's Messenger email client.

    Photo by Donald R. Winslow