Apple Silicon Gets Native Java Support from Azul

Apple unveiled the first set of Macs based on the company's new ARM-based M1system-on-chip (SoC) at its "One More Thing" live stream event this week. The next generation of the Cupertino, CA-based company's MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Minis running on Apple's own silicon are available for pre-order from the Apple store now, and will be generally available next week.

For Java jocks--a great many of whom are Mac users--open-source Java tools provider Azul Systems stepped up immediately to announce plans to deliver OpenJDK builds for the new machines, giving developers native Java support for current and popular Java versions.

Azul has been leading the OpenJDK community effort (JEP 391) to accommodate the transition of Apple's Macs computers from x64 to AArch64, initiated in August 2020. In addition to targeting future Java versions, such as Java 16, Azul will make OpenJDK builds of currently popular Java versions, the company said, including Zulu builds of OpenJDK 8, 11, 13, and 15, widely available for use on Apple Silicon, Arm-based Macs.

"Given the popularity of Macs among Java developers, when Apple announced the transition of MacBooks and Mac Desktops to Apple Silicon, we recognized the resulting gap in Java support and anticipated a broad developer need for Java JDKs for these new platforms," Azul president and CEO Scott Sellers told ADTmag via email. "We took action to fulfil that need, and to prevent discontinuity. The key for developers, and for users of their applications, is that the JDKs they rely on remain readily available on their environment of choice, and that those JDKs remain trustworthy—TCK-tested, Java certified, and secure. We are proud to enable developers to continue using Apple's Mac platforms for Java development using the popular Azul Zulu builds of OpenJDK, even as Apple transitions to new hardware architectures previously unsupported by OpenJDK."

In June 2020, Apple announced a two-year plan to transition the CPUs in its Macintosh line of computers from Intel's x86-64 processors to Apple-designed chips that use the ARM64 architecture. Designed from the ground up to work with the macOS Big Sur operating system, the M1 combines the processor, I/O, security, and memory on a single chip.

Azul Zulu builds of OpenJDK are tested and certified open source JDKs that cover the industry's widest supported range of OpenJDK versions, target platforms, and package types. Zulu builds of OpenJDK are free to download and use without restrictions, with optional support available from Azul via Zulu Enterprise subscription plans.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Azul bills itself as the only vendor focused exclusively on the Java and the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). The Zing JVM is based on Oracle's HotSpot, a core component of Java SE. Zing is a "no-pause" JVM designed to eliminate Garbage Collection (GC) pauses, a long-standing challenge for Java developers. This pauselessness, which Azul calls "generational pauseless garbage collection" (GPGC), enables Java app instances to scale dynamically and reliably. Sellers has called GC "the Achilles heel of Java."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].