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Sun Grinds Java for Consumer Devices

After a torrid couple of days for Sun Microsystems Inc. , news from the networking giant continued to flow out of the JavaOne Developer Conference in San Francisco Wednesday when it revealed a number of advancements in its Java Virtual Machine (VM) technology targeted for Java-based mobile phones, personal digital assistants and other on other gadgets.

Sun is counting on two new VMs, Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC -- code-named Monty) and Connected Device Configuration (CDC)/Dynamic Compiler to offer 10 times the performance of existing virtual machine technologies in an especially small footprint. Virtual machine is the Palo Alto, Calif. firm's term for software that acts as an interface between compiler Java binary code and the hardware platform that performs the program's instructions. Sun is relying on embedded RISC processor technology from ARM and embedded operating system provider Symbian to help with its undertaking.

Sun's goal is to provide richer applications that run faster for mobile phones, PDAs, set-top boxes, gateways and telematics systems that run Java. Under the new proposed architecture scheme, the ARM processors would consume less power, too.

The two VM represent different classes of devices. Project Monty VMs were made for mobile phones and low-end PDAs while CDC/Dynamic Compiler is tailored for high-end PDAs and communicators, game consoles, TV set-top boxes and the like.

Project Monty and CDC/Dynamic Compiler will be available commercially this summer.

Sun also unveiled an integrated development environment (IDE) optimized for developers building applications targeting the Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME) for mobile devices, called Forte for Java 4, Mobile Edition. Based on the NetBeans open source platform, Forte for Java 4, Mobile Edition may be downloaded free from the Sun Web site. Nokia, Siemens, Sony Ericsson and Sprint, have all agreed to lump Forte for Java products with their developer tools and redistribute the products to their developer communities.

The explosion of the mobile device market is well documented, to be sure, by research firms such as The Strategis Group, which claimed 483 million units will be sold to users globally, and one third of the world's population will own a wireless device by 2008. Gartner Dataquest said worldwide PDA shipments in 2001 totaled 13.1 million units, an 18 percent increase from 2000. This figure comes despite a rough year for hardware manufacturers in other markets. And Gartner Dataquest sister Gartner Consulting said worldwide wireless e-business revenue totaled $110 billion in 2001, a 46 percent increase over 2000 revenue of $75 billion.

Sun Wednesday also provided a place where the wirelessly-inclined may meet to discuss building Java applications for mobile devices, the Wireless Developer Portal.

The move is another step in Sun's process of committing to the development of wireless applications, particularly as rivals in the industry continue to stuff Web services down each other's mouths in competition. To that end, Sun wants developers to turn to its Java platform rather than Microsoft Corp. applications and platforms such as .NET.

In the bird's eye view, market research firm IDC said the market for Web services will top $34 billion by 2007.

Like many other portals, WIRELESS.JAVA.SUN.COM offers an easy way for developers to get started on standards and tools. The site's resources include: tutorials, case studies and reports, forums, code drop for sharing code among peers, as well as a bug database to learn the status of bugs and workarounds.

In other developer news, Sun unveiled Web services integration frameworks for integration and portal technologies, including the iPlanet XML Adapter Designer Toolkit and WSDL support for iPlanet Integration Server, for iPlanet Portal Server, and a new Portlet API Java Specification Request (JSR) initiative through the Java Community Process (JCP) program.