Sun turbocharges with ARM Jazelle

Building applications for mobile devices presents unique challenges to developers. Beyond the basic struggle to squeeze everything into the smaller footprint and getting it to run with the constrained resources, there's a different set of user expectations to meet -- among them, little patience with apps that take too long to execute.

The need to provide "a better mobile experience" to users running Java apps on cell phones and handhelds has led Sun to partner with ARM, a U.K.-based maker of 16- and 32-bit embedded RISC microprocessors. The two companies have announced a long-term collaboration to integrate and distribute optimized Java solutions for mobile devices.

Eric Chu, director of J2ME business and marketing at Sun, says the agreement brings together ARM's Jazelle hardware acceleration technology and Sun's JVM for resource-constrained devices, known as the Connected Limited Device Configuration HotSpot Implementation.

"Once an application is running, our HotSpot technology is excellent at providing very, very fast user interaction," says Chu. "But there's a warm-up time. What Jazelle is good at is getting an immediate performance boost. We blend the two together, and we dramatically cut down on the start-up time."

The integrated product will increase application execution speed and reduce start-up time by up to 50%, says Chu. In the interest of simplicity, Sun and ARM plan to distribute the product through a single source: Sun. Commercial deployment will be subject to the separate licensing terms of Sun and ARM, respectively, say the companies.

Sun's HotSpot customers will be able to integrate, test and benchmark the integrated product with Jazelle capabilities out of the box, says Chu. Handset manufacturers and carriers can deploy a software-only solution using HotSpot alone, or an integrated solution combining HotSpot and Jazelle, he adds.

"We are seeing extremely high, worldwide deployment of Jazelle technology-enabled cores," says ARM marketing EVP Mike Inglis in a statement. "By integrating optimized hardware and software for mobile Java devices, we are improving users' experiences while increasing return on investment for handset manufacturers and network operators."

Sun plans to ship the integrated HotSpot-Jazelle software in Q4 2004.

In a related announcement, Sun disclosed that Korean carrier KTF has licensed Java technology for its mobile data services. The agreement will help Korean mobile operators to complete a transition to Wireless Internet Platform for interoperability and to take advantage of global Java technology economy, says Sun.

And ARM reports that ZRRT, a Chinese mobile technology provider, will integrate the ARM Jazelle Technology Enabling Kit software into its Java virtual machine. The ARM JTEK technology will be used to help develop Java mobile phone services for UniJa, a Java-based, value-adding service platform promoted by the strategic alliance of China Unicom, Sun and ZRRT, says the company.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].