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Intel aims Pentium II at Java

Intel wants to position the Pentium II as the "no risk, no compromise" platform for Java.

Business users expecting Java-based applications to run on low-cost computers or network computers (NCs) may be in for a surprise, at least as Intel (INTC) sees it.

At today's Pentium II announcement in New York, Intel demonstrated several business-oriented Java applications, but they weren't on stripped-down NCs but top-of-the-line Pentium II systems.

"The Pentium II is the no-risk, no-compromise, Java platform," declared Intel vice president Paul Otelini. Otelini demonstrated the speed of the new systems using some of Corel's new Java office applications during the formal presentation.

Intel vice president William Swope discussed the new take on Java in an interview with CNET's NEWS.COM. "When you write applications that can be deployed in a business environment, they become more demanding," he said. When Java apps are developed with the kind of error checking and features found in commercial business software, making them run acceptably fast can require a lot of computing power, Swope added.

Combine this with the already sluggish performance of most standard Java applications, and Intel sees compelling reasons to promote the Pentium II as technology for running Java applications for business.

All of this runs contrary to the thin-client or NC concept that other companies such as Oracle have been promoting. Those systems, expected to cost anywhere from $300 to $800, are relatively low-powered computers that download applications and data from a central server. One of the major software approaches being considered is the use of Java as the standard for the applications used on these systems.

On another front, Intel today was pushing the idea of the "visual-connected PC," systems based on powerful processors that allow people to access data over the network, display it in 3D, and manipulate it.

The demos Intel gave at the Pentium II announcement reflected this, including one based on Netscape Communicator showing the use of that program's "active desktop" feature to allow a business user to get at and handle corporate data.

On hand to discuss the potential of the Pentium II as a network client was Merrill Lynch executive vice president Ed Goldberg, who demonstrated a system his company will be using to provide its employees with rapid access to financial data.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.