Sun to take wraps off Java appliances chip

Sun Microsystems has developed architecture for a new Java-based chip that it expects to be used to power devices in the emerging information appliances market.

Sun hopes the architecture, called Microprocessor Architecture for Java Computing (MAJC), will soon be used to make chips for use in TV set-top boxes that access the Internet and in mobile computers, games, video used in TVs for image conferencing and graphics and other newly-developing appliances, Russ Castronovo, Sun's public relations manager, said.

Technical details of the architecture will be unveiled in two weeks, and the processor that MAJC will power will be released in early October, according to Castronovo.

Sun is hoping that the introduction of the chip and the increased use of Java-based appliances will increase the attractiveness of other Java-based products sold by the company, Castronovo said. "We sell Java servers and workstations, and that's what we want to see people using, " he said.

MAJC should capture the imagination of many users of new information appliances, said Tom Halfhill, an embedded processor analyst with Cahners MicroDesign Resources, publishers of Microprocessor Report.

"It [MAJC] is going after a segment of the market that the technical people all say will be a huge market, including for set-top boxes capable of doing e-mail, running a browser and other functions of a PC," Halfhill said. "The main thrust of the product is Java, and anything Sun can do to make Java better is good for Sun."

Sun will make MAJC chips and may possibly license the architecture to other firms to make chips for their own devices, Castronovo said. Pricing details were not released.

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