After two years in the melting pot, Sun's embedded Java chip has at last been cast in silicon.
Sun showed off samples of the chip, runnign PicoJava, embedded Java code, at Comdex last week. However, the company has abandoned plans to produce its own chip.
The MicroJava 701 CPU was originally planned to be the forerunner of a range of microprocessors for new devices from Sun, including network computing clients. Now, according to Sun, the 701 is a validation product, but will not be sold.
"The chip has Java OS running on it and will be used for the benchmarking and testing of PicoJava in our labs," said Fadi Azhari, group manager for PicoJava at Sun. "Sun has no plans to release products based on the chip but we have a range of licensees who will be embedding the chips in set-top boxes, handheld devices and automobile navigation systems."
Jim Turley, senior editor and embedded systems analyst for the US Microprocessor Report, said: "This is Sun's first and last Java chip. In the early stages (Sun) will be carefully turning up the power to see if it wiggles and doesn't go up in smoke. The company now seems to be content to develop the brains and let others build the bodies."
Several partners chose Comdex to announce plans to support Sun. Siemens plans to use PicoJava in its 88-series smart cards to execute its Java Card Instruction Set. NEC has said it will use it as the focus of its embedded chip product development plans for home appliances, telecommunications devices and factory floor controllers. Fujitsu and ETRI, Korea's research institute for developing information and telecommunications technology, have both announced plans for using the technology across the handheld and set-top box markets.
"The significance of Sun's announcement is virtually nil in the embedded market because of its size," said Turley. "In microprocessor terms, all of the computer chip companies combined still have a market share that rounds down to 0% of the market while embedded systems account for nearly 100%."
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