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Oracle offers tiny tools for pint-sized Java devices

'Java can fit in THAT?'

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Oracle has announced two new Java products for embedded systems, with the aim of getting the object-oriented language running on as wide a range of devices as possible, including ones with very limited resources.

Tuesday's new addition to the database giant's Java Platform, Micro Edition (Java ME) lineup, Oracle Java ME Embedded 3.2 shrinks Java's footprint down to levels that are almost unthinkable in the modern PC era. Derived from the version of Java ME that runs on feature phones, it supports devices with ARM processors and as little as 130KB RAM and 350KB ROM.

What that means is that for the first time, Java is within reach of developers of small, low-power embedded devices, such as microcontrollers for industrial applications, home automation, environmental sensors, and machine-to-machine (M2M) systems.

Because of the unique requirements of such devices, Java ME Embedded allows developers to create systems that can be operated remotely, and software updates can be downloaded and applied on the fly, including adding new features without affecting the existing ones.

But the real advantage of using Java for embedded applications, Oracle says, is that its high-level code allows devices makers to be more flexible.

"With Oracle Java ME Embedded 3.2, applications for small embedded devices are no longer tied to a single hardware platform," Oracle said in a press release. "Customers can now develop software in parallel with their hardware development to help improve productivity and achieve faster time to market."

Naturally, Oracle has released an SDK to go along with the new version of the platform, including plugins for Eclipse, and it says it will soon make available a standard binary that can be used for rapid prototyping on ARM development boards.

Meanwhile, Oracle also announced a second Java product for embedded systems with less rigid hardware constraints, including network appliances, healthcare devices, home gateways and routers, and devices such as multi-function printers.

Dubbed Oracle Embedded Suite, it's essentially a complete middleware stack designed to run on Java-powered embedded devices, including an integrated web server, the Glassfish for Embedded application server, the Java DB database, and the Jersey Web Services Framework.

The idea is that by integrating all of these application components in an embedded system, Java developers can use their existing skillsets to build devices that can both offer services and collect their own data, which can later be synchronized with enterprise systems.

Oracle's big embedded push comes mere days before it kicks off this year's JavaOne conference, set to take place from September 30 through October 4 as part of the database giant's massive OpenWorld event, which takes over entire blocks of downtown San Francisco each year.

This year's JavaOne will include over 60 conference sessions devoted to embedded Java technologies, Oracle says, including a new, business-focused track that offers executives and decision makers the full sales pitch. ®

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