AJile Systems Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based fabless semiconductor company, announced this week the first 100 percent Java-based reference design for handsets and PDAs.
The reference design, Java Communications Device, is built around aJile's aJ-100 Java processor. The single-chip processor includes the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and does direct execution of Java byte codes and includes "real-time Java threading primitives," according to Spencer Horowitz, a spokesman for the company.
The reference design also includes a full set of development tools, and collaborative material, 8MB of SRAM, 8MB of flash memory, the Java OS, Java applications such as an HTML browser, personal information management programs, e-mail, MP3 player, SMS instant messaging, and games and support for 2.5G (GPRS) and 3G (CDMA 2000) cellular connectivity.
"All an ODM [original device manufacturer] has to do is put their name on it," said Horowitz.
One industry analyst also believes that Java along with .Net and Qualcomm Inc.'s BREW (Binary Run-time Environment for Wireless) development environment are key elements in handsets.
"Putting any portion of an OS on a chip and moving it out of memory is beneficial. Java on a chip will take less real estate and make processing faster, and that is a good thing," said Tim Scannell, president of Shoreline Research in Quincy, Mass.
By putting Java on the processor and improving performance, developers will be able to deliver larger, more sophisticated applications as well as use color -- something that is somewhat problematic with a slow, software-based JVM, according to Scannell.
A hardware-based JVM will run 10 times faster than a JVM in software, allowing for such features as 16-bit color animation and 320-by-240 VGA quality display, said Horowitz.
The design also allows designers to partition the JVM so that applications downloaded from the Internet do not intrude on the part of the JVM assigned to the host applications.aJile is shipping the reference design this week; depending on packaging, pricing ranges up to $500,000.