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ARM servers to gain boost from ARM, Oracle Java partnership

Bringing multicore, 64-bit ARMv8 support to Java SE

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ARM Holdings on Monday announced that it has entered into a multi-year partnership with Oracle to optimize the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) for the ARM processor architecture, including 64-bit ARMv8 designs.

ARM chips have long dominated the mobile computing biz, but this new effort will focus mainly on improving performance and scalability on multi-core ARM systems for the server, network infrastructure, and embedded systems markets.

"By working closely with ARM to enhance the JVM, adding support for 64-bit ARM technology and optimizing other aspects of the Java SE product for the ARM architecture, enterprise and embedded customers can reap the benefits of high-performance, energy-efficient platforms based on ARM technology," Oracle VP of Java product management Henrik Stahl said in a canned statement.

ARM announced its 64-bit designs in 2011, but the first servers based on ARMv8 aren't due until next year, with companies like Applied Micro Circuits and Calxeda leading the charge. ARM's new partnership with Oracle will bring Java support to ARMv8 chips for the first time, though whether it will be available by the time the first hardware hits the market is unclear.

Meanwhile, the market for microservers based on 32-bit ARM architectures is heating up, with the Cambridge-based chip designer enhancing its ARMv7 designs with better cache and memory controllers and – you guessed it – more cores, in a bid to make a serious run at Intel for the data-center market. ARM and Oracle's work will help optimize Java for these new designs.

Beyond servers, Java increasingly powers all kinds of other devices that businesses rely upon, ranging from routers and other networking equipment to purpose-built embedded systems. At last October's JavaOne developer conference, Oracle executive VP Hasan Rizvi said the database giant was seeing "lots of demand" for Java running on Linux for the ARM architecture.

To help support these markets, Oracle and ARM's new agreement will see them working on such areas as improving boot-up times, reducing power consumption, and optimizing libraries for ARM chips – all of which should help make Java more attractive for such applications as industrial control, factory automation, and single-board computers.

This isn't the first time ARM has partnered with Oracle on Java. ARM has worked on various Java-related projects since 1996, and in November 2011 it was elected to the Java Community Process Executive Committee for the Java Platform, Micro Edition (Java ME), where it helps steer Java for embedded markets.

"The industry has reached a significant inflection point as enterprise infrastructure, including servers and network routers, is now able to leverage high-performance, energy-efficient ARM technology," ARM chief marketing officer Ian Drew said on Monday. "A diverse, optimized software ecosystem must be in place to support these systems." ®

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