IBM Microelectronics has signed up to use Sun's Pico Java technology in its embedded processors, despite a poor demand for the programme language-based chips.
The two giants' chip units have signed a deal in the hope that electronic device makers will select Java technology for future applications, fulfilling Java's promise of 'write once, run anywhere'.
But analysts claimed there was no demand for Java processors, and few Pico Java chips have been shipped, as the software is not fast enough to perform well in data crunching devices.
Chet Silvestri, Sun Microelectronics president, claimed Java chips are not selling because custom-made devices are not ready. However, the licensing deal with IBM may speed up this process since the vendor can provide Power PC chips with the Pico Java core technology.
'All these devices need the processor and the intellectual property on the chip,' Silvestri said. 'To the run the device you need to merge the chip company (Sun) and the customiser (IBM).'
IBM is the largest vendor of application-specific integrated circuits - chips designed for a particular purpose, for instance checking car emissions.
Sun claimed the deal with IBM will accelerate OEM launches of intelligent network devices and boost the entire market.
Luis Arzubi, IBM Microelectronics VP, admitted it had no definite Java chip designs but said discussions are underway.
The IBM deal covered Sun's Pico Java I core but could be extended to include Pico Java II, which can run software in languages other than Java.
Sun already licences Pico Java to hardware firms including Fujitsu, LG, Mitsubishi Electronics, NEC, Rockwell Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics.
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