The announcement is the company's first major Java chip initiative since the processors were announced last year.
The deals, to be revealed at the JavaOne trade show this week, are with Toshiba for mobile or laptop network computers; Korea's LG Semicon for Internet televisions, Rockwell Collins for cellular phones, geo-positioning systems (GPS) devices, and aircraft avionics; and Thomson Sun Interactive for interactive TVs and set-top boxes.
In May 1996, Sun announced a series of deals with major Asian chip and consumer electronics manufacturers, including LG Semi, Samsung, Mitsubishi Electric America, and NEC, for general-purpose consumer Java chips.
The LG Semicon codevelopment deal--which covers chips for NCs, TVs, set-top boxes and consumer kiosks--involves creating a new chip that the Korean consumer electronics firm will use but that also will be sold under the Sun brand to other manufacturers.
With Thomson Sun Interactive, an interactive TV joint venture of Sun and Thomson Consumer Electronics, Sun Microelectronics will help port Thomson Sun's OpenTV operating system to run on Java chips in set-top boxes.
Chet Silvestri, president of Sun Microelectronics, said he expects the new device-specific chips to reach the consumer market in 1998. Sample quantities of the chips are expected by the end of 1997, and Sun will market them to multiple manufacturers.
Silvestri said more device-specific deals can be expected, mentioning game devices, PDAs, and other devices smaller than a laptop computer as candidates. He also said discussions are underway with U.S. and European manufacturers for broad licenses for consumer Java chips and device-specific processors.
"We hope to have Java chips present in everything from smart cards through Net computers, including add-in boards for PCs, telephones, TVs, GPS devices in automobiles, cellular phones. We have real interest and real activity in all those areas."
Separately, Sun also will announce an agreement with MetaWare to port MetaWare's High C/C++ embedded toolset to support Sun's picoJava core.