Sun and Intel promised this week that they would attempt to answer criticisms of Java?s performance on Intel chips.
Representatives from the companies explained that the improvements form a little publicised part of their recent agreement to port Sun?s Solaris operating system to Intel?s Merced processor (see Newswire December 16). Under this broad deal, Sun has committed to improve Java?s performance on Intel?s 32-bit architecture.
This has been widely criticised since a Microsoft study last year indicated that the design of Intel?s floating point unit slowed down the way it processed Java. Some observers accused Sun of neglecting this weakness in order to optimise performance on its own chip architecture, Sparc.
But Sun has claimed it will introduce new or enhanced features to improve the way Java runs on Intel's Pentium processor, which owns 99 per cent of the desktop market.
Andrew Bush, Sun?s Java market development manager, said: ?We?re constantly extending capabilities and standards where Java is applied. We?ve introduced hotspot technology and JIT compilers."
But improvements will always be constrained by the chip design itself. "It?s very much down to how the chip executes certain things and the architecture has certain gains on what it will do," he said.
He said that this is not necessarily of great concern to Sun because users can choose alternative platforms if they require.
?It is always important to get the best performance out of any system you develop, but performance isn?t necessarily the most important thing for Java," he said. "One of the points of Java is that it can run on all platforms. The Sparc architecture is superior over Intel and we?re always working on trying to optimise performance on Sparc and Intel architectures. It?s open to the industry to work on that.?
Some chipmakers, he said, are looking to embed Java into their chip architectures. One of these is Lucky Goldstar of Korea.
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