Sun Microelectronics, a division of Sun Microsystems, unveiled the industry's first microprocessor family for Java this month. Aimed for use in cellular phones, security systems, entertainment systems, low-cost network terminals, and other Internet appliances, the Java processor family will consist of three products, the PicoJava, the MicroJava and the UltraJava.
The PicoJava is expected to be a sub-$US25 Java-optimised processor for cellular phones, printers and other consumer peripheral markets. The first PicoJava core is expected to be available in mid-1996 for industry-wide licensing.
Jim Venable, director of product marketing for Sun Microelectronics, said: "One example of PicoJava impact might be in the cellular phone industry. Cell phones are expected to begin offering enhanced products, such as full colour screens with touch capabilities, and Internet connections. Enhancements can be downloaded with a Java applet that was sent through the airwaves directly to the cell phone. No longer will a cell phone be limited to what is embedded on the microprocessor."
The MicroJava chip-level products are based upon the PicoJava core and add application- specific I/O, memory, communications and control functions. Targeted at both general-purpose and industry-specific markets, MicroJava processors will range in price from $US25-100. These chips could be used in a broad range of network-based devices such as controllers and telecomms carrier equipment, as well as consumer products such as low-end games. The first MicroJava processors are expected to sample in the first quarter of 1997.
The UltraJava processor line will include the fastest Java processors. UltraJava processors will target advanced 3-D graphics and other multimedia-intensive applications. Starting at $US100, the first UltraJava processors are expected to sample in late 1997.
"Java presents the microprocessor world with a new product paradigm: simple, secure and small," stated Chet Silvestri, president of Sun Microelectronics. "And our Java processors cast this paradigm in silicon.
"Java processors extend our reach into the low-cost consumer and enterprise marketplace. Sun Microelectronics will not only offer a full range of Java-optimised component- and board-level products, we'll also license these designs to third parties who can embed the technology into the wide range of products that will be enabled by the rapid growth of the Internet and Java."
Sun expects the overall microprocessor and microcontroller market will top $US60 billion by the year 1999. Rajesh Parekh, Sun Microelec-tronics' Embedded Products Group vice-president and general manager, said the chips are designed to create "millions of cellular phones, security systems, entertainment systems, low-cost network terminals, and other Internet appliances operating within a network and highly optimised for small applications or applets running at top speed.
"We believe that our Java processors can provide a more optimum solution in a quarter of these applications," said Parekh.