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June 6, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:01pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Respected industry journal The Microprocessor Report has fired a shot across the bows of Java in its editorial pages, opining that Java may be the grandest hoax perpetrated on the computer industry in a decade. The reason it doesn’t like it is that Java sacrifices performance at the altar of portability, running, it says, equally poorly on all microprocessors. In essence, it believes Java’s being asked to do too much and its performance is being impaired. To solve the problems inherent in distributing source code, Java programs are tokenized into bytecode. But emulating bytecode involves emulating not just an alien instruction set but an entire imaginary computer, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This requires either an interpreter or a JIT (just in time compiler), both of which are huge applications. (Even Java chips need an emulation library.) Quite apart from the memory footprint of the JIT itself, bytecode swells 2-5x in size during the conversion, it says. Hence bytecode isn’t as much as native code. The newsletter says Java is good for certain things but unfortunately running a universe of diskless NCs isn’t one of them. It also can’t imagine mission-critical applications being based on what is essentially shareware: rather than storing applications locally, we should download them from the web, it says describing the Java vision. Applets can be created by anyone and thrown, like a message in a bottle, into the internet for everyone to use, free of charge. It doesn’t think this will fly any more than it thinks Java is suitable for embedded applications where portability is of little use and performance and cost everything. It thinks it’s time for the industry to wake up and smell the coffee.

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