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IBM rolls out fastest JVM, plans Linux version

Big Blue aims at MS with compliance and speed

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IBM claims that its new JVM for Windows is an average of 30 per cent faster than any other JVM, from tests with the SPECjvm98 and VolanoMark benchmarks. In some cases, IBM's JVM (which is based on Java 1.1.7B, although a Java 2 version will be available later in the year) is 52 per cent faster than other Windows versions, IBM said. It is also free, and available for download from Monday at www.ibm.com/java for Windows 9x and NT. IBM already has a JVM for OS/2, AIX, OS/400, OS/390 - and the IBM4690 cash register, apparently. The speed has been achieved by better memory management, and IBM says that scalability and throughput has been improved. There is a just-in-time compiler. A mixed-mode interpreter is used for the parts of the Java program that are executed repeatedly. It was developed from JVM code licensed from Sun and improved by IBM. Unlike Microsoft's own non-standard, impure version that was deliberately modified to remove cross-platform capabilities (as came out in great detail during the evidence from James Gosling during the Microsoft trial), IBM's version is pure Java, or "fully compliant" as IBM puts it. This will be bad news for Microsoft, because one of its boasts had been the speed of its JVM. IBM has made a very significant commitment to Java because it can benefit considerably from the cross-platform capabilities. It is believed that IBM has more Java programmers than any other company. IBM's interest in all this is of course to push its electronic commerce business. At the end of April, Sun is scheduled to deliver its Hotspot enhancement for its JVM, although Sun will charge for this. Jason Woodard of IBM's Java marketing group noted that many IBM customers had found that NT was not sufficiently scalable, but it was convenient to develop in a Windows environment before porting to something else. IBM is also developing a Linux port for WebSphere (which uses Blackdown), but is still deciding whether to develop its own JVM for Linux. ®

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