ARM, Sun to brew new Java chips

Sun Microsystems announced Monday that it is teaming with microprocessor maker ARM Ltd. to develop Java chips for wireless and mobile devices. Under the collaboration and licensing deal, ARM will gain access to Sun's Java technology which it will then incorporate into its Jazelle-technology based microprocessors.

ARM produces 16/32-bit embedded RISC (reduced instruction set computer) microprocessors that perform relatively simple instructions at a faster speed than CISC (complex instruction set computer) designs do. ARM's Jazelle technology, launched in October 2000, was created to perform Java applications on devices where memory and power supply are limited.

By collaborating, the two companies aim to create microprocessors tailored to the burgeoning wireless and mobile device market, using Sun's Java savvy with ARM's speedy, low power and memory consuming chips.

During a prickly conference call Monday, executives from both companies were repeatedly queried by journalists as to why the licensing deal was more significant than Sun's other Java licensing agreements.

Sun Vice President of Java Software Rich Green indicated that the deal was a power play because both companies have heavy market share in their respective industries and are working together to target one of the most high-growth technology markets.

"Going forward, we see explosive growth in handsets powered by Java," said Green.

Green added that he expects hundreds of millions of handsets to be shipped in the next few years, and that he believes they will soon outnumber PCs.

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