Sun Microsystems and chipmaker ARM are to collaborate on developing Java chips for wireless and mobile devices.
As part of the agreement announced yesterday, ARM will build Sun's Java technology into its microprocessors based on the company's Jazelle technology.
Two ARM chips, the ARM7 Thumb and the ARM9 Thumb, can already run some Java instructions through the Jazelle chip extension, but the company intends to spread this Java ability across its entire line of processors.
ARM chips traditionally support two instruction sets: 16 and 32-bit. The Jazelle technology extends this by adding a third instruction set, Java byte code, to the capability of the processor.
Rich Green, vice president of Java software at Sun, said: "We see ARM as underpinning a great deal of microprocessor technology in consumer electronics.
"The ARM Jazelle technology provides a highly-optimised implementation of the Java Virtual Machine [JVM], speeding up execution times and providing consumers with an enriched user experience on their mobile devices."
Java programs run inside the JVM which handles the details of communicating with the underlying hardware. The JVM can also make it much faster and cheaper to develop software that runs on multiple devices.
Markus Levy, an analyst at MicroDesign Resources, said he used not to believe in Java because of the performance issues. "But now I see it coming," he said. "It's just a matter of time. There's no doubt you will see three to 10 times more performance."
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