Java developers to wait longer for JDK 1.2, HotSpot

Saying it needs more time to present a full and stable release, the Java product team at Sun Microsystems is again delaying the release of Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.2 by at least two months, until December. The postponement in the delivery of the next major release of the guts behind Java development and deployment will also set back emergence of the Java HotSpot virtual machine accelerator to near the end of the first quarter of 1999.

Saying it needs more time to present a full and stable release, the Java product team at Sun Microsystems is again delaying the release of Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.2 by at least two months, until December.

The postponement in the delivery of the next major release of the guts behind Java development and deployment will also set back emergence of the Java HotSpot virtual machine accelerator to near the end of the first quarter of 1999, Sun officials said on Monday.

HotSpot has been beset by delays. It was originally slated to ship last year, then bumped to mid-1998, and now into 1999.

The HotSpot technology rides on top of the JDK 1.2 implementations to boost Java performance. HotSpot specifically will work to improve the speed of the just-in-time compilers found in Java virtual machines (JVMs).

Sun expects the HotSpot techniques of adaptive optimization and in-lining, along with a new garbage-collection mechanism called Train, to significantly raise the bar on overall Java performance.

Many developers, anxious to garner such performance improvements, are already gearing up for the JDK 1.2 release by implementing early aspects of it in their applications. The Java Plug In technology, formerly known as Activator, for example, allows some JVM 1.2-level performance on the client for participating independent software vendors.

At least one ISV was not put off by the delay.

"It doesn't give us heartburn because we're not shipping a follow-on product until well into next year," said Rod Hodgman, vice president of marketing at NovaSoft Systems, in Burlington, Massachusetts, maker of the all-Java Novation workflow product. "It's just a timing issue, but if we were deep into development, it would be different."

Sun's Java Software division one month ago issued Beta 4 of the JDK 1.2, which it termed "feature-complete." The beta upgrade includes Symantec's JIT Compiler 3.0, the underpinnings of the company's HotSpot virtual machine, Java Foundation Classes, the Java 2-D API, extended security, and CORBA support.

Seemingly prescient about the slowing pace of the Java rollouts, a number of vendors such as Tower Technology, Instantiations, IBM, and Symantec are developing their own methods for improving Java code performance. The vendors are pursuing native compilers that improve the performance of Java applications on specific platforms.

Java Soft, a division of Sun Microsystems Inc. in Mountain View, California, can be reached at http://www.javasoft.com/.

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