Special chips hardwired to run Java "portable programs" could turn devices as diverse as telephone handsets or kitchen-based electronic recipe books into powerful Web access tools.
Most users experience Java as the code which runs fancy graphics on Web pages, but it is a powerful language for programs designed to run on any computer for which a Java Virtual Machine has been written. The JVM basically translates Java instructions into code specific to the machine it is running on.
Major browsers have a JVM built in.
This universality has lent credence to the idea of the network computer, or thin client, which has few resources of its own but draws all its computing power from the network - often in the form of Java-based applications.
Sun and Oracle have just announced NC designs, targeted at companies. Devices like email-enabled smart phones and set-top boxes can be given JVMs to become, in effect, NCs.
Sun has developed a core design for a Java chip that should run code much faster than current processors. Other manufacturers will make chips from the design next year, adding memory, input and output facilities to suit their target applications. More details on www.Sun.com.
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