Despite having a staff of just 30, chip maker Patriot Scientific Corp has been quietly getting on with beating Sun Microsystems Inc to the tape to produce the first Java chip, and the latest we hear from the company is that having got the 0.8 micron version of its PSC1000 chip – codenamed ShBoom – in silicon it is in the last testing phase with the 0.5 micron version and will be going to the foundry shortly with that. The San Diego company also says it has begun loading the Java virtual machine and Java operating system it licensed from the even-smaller NetWise Distribution Inc on to the silicon. Patriot says its own software engineers have done significant amounts of tweaking to the software. We understand there are two Patriot engineers working full time on the software, and we hear this extra effort was necessitated by NetWise taking its eye off the ball slightly while Citrix Systems Inc made advances towards the company recently, only to be sent packing. But Patriot thinks that may have been a blessing in disguise, and now be going in a slightly different direction than NetWise, though we don’t yet know how different. It has about 20 chip samples – without the Java – out with motherboard manufacturers right now, no names obviously, but those manufacturers are waiting for a ‘proof of concept’ from Patriot, showing the Java-on-silicon in action. It expects to have that within two months. Expect some milestone announcements over the next few weeks, and the company is promising substantive announcements within 30 days about licensees, that is some of those 20 companies that are sampling. Patriot is absolutely certain there will be devices out there by Christmas containing its Java chips. People have been telling the company that Sun won’t make it’s end of year deadline and will slip into the first quarter of next year, but there’s no confirmation of that. And we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries from existing and prospective Patriot investors curious about the progress it’s making. Yesterday somebody bought 50,000 Patriot shares off the bat and volume was heavy for this small operation. Some see some sort of close partnership, perhaps with a fellow chip shop is on the cards. Incidentally, Sun has trademarked the phrase, Java chip.
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