In an embarrassing backtrack, Sun admitted yesterday to having ?committed an unintentional error? when it published Java benchmark results for its Just In Time (JIT) compiler in October. These benchmark results suggested that Sun?s new JIT compiler makes Java applications run 50 per cent faster on Sun's Solaris operating system than on Windows NT.
The controversy started when Pendragon Software, the creators of the widely used CaffeineMark benchmark, claimed last week that Sun?s new product was designed to detect parts of the benchmark, thus producing misleading results.
Sun at first responded with a flat-out denial, stating that its new product simply had ?blown the doors off? the CaffeineMark benchmark, and hinting that Pendragon?s criticism was inspired by pressure from Microsoft. As reported on the VNU Newswire on 6 November, Sun claimed it had merely ?optimised? its compiler.
However, independent experts have since verified Pendragon?s findings, confirming that the JIT compiler contains a portion of the CaffeineMark benchmark code. This enables the compiler to detect and skip this code, thereby completing the program faster - a well known but frowned upon method of producing better benchmark results.
Sun has now posted a brief message on its Web site, admitting that in its press release, ?the effect of the benchmark-specific optimization was described as if it were an indication of overall application performance?, and announcing that it has retracted the press release.
Sun also offers an explanation for the ?unintentional error?. ?Sun believes that CaffeineMark 3.0 has a large section of dead code, code that can be removed without changing the program?s result. As an engineering experiment, our optimizer looked for and removed this code. This ?optimization? was created primarily to demonstrate what the performance would be if the full general-purpose dead code elimination algorithm were implemented?.
The message goes on to state that: ?As orginally created it was not intended that the results of this prototype would be used except as an engineering test of potential future development?.
Sun maintains that it is working on more general optimisation techniques, and predicts these will lead to better performance - both on the CaffeineMark benchmark and in real life applications.
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