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IBM brings 64-bit Java to AIX

IBM hopes to beat Sun and Hewlett-Packard to get 64-bit Java out of the door -- but it's first applications will be in the scientific community

IBM plans to make 64-bit Java technology available on its AIX 5L Unix operating system in early July, a move that it claims puts AIX ahead of Sun's Solaris and Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX operating systems.

Big Blue made the announcement this week at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

"While 64-bit Java software is not yet offered on HP-UX or Sun Solaris, we will be offering a free download of our AIX developer kit, Java 2 Technology Edition, Version 1.3.0 for AIX 5L, in early July," Tim Dougherty, IBM's director of e-business strategy, told eWEEK. "This will allow customers to create and run 64-bit Java applications using the APIs in Java version 1.3.0."

Also included in the developer kit is IBM's Just in Time compiler and Mixed Mode Interpreter and a re-engineered Java Virtual Machine that includes an enhanced memory management subsystem designed to handle the large heap sizes possible with 64-bit Java technology, Dougherty said.

A Sun spokesman said the company has similar technology currently in beta. "It is open to question whether IBM is doing anything unusual here, and this technology is certainly not unique," the spokesman said.

Dougherty said that 64-bit Java code "provides a new level of scalability for data-sensitive operations like online libraries, large corporate databases and scientific computations that need access to huge amounts of memory. In addition, existing Java apps can be moved to the 64-bit environment without recompiling or recoding."

While this capability will initially appeal to a niche group of users -- primarily scientists -- its attraction will become more mainstream over time, he said.

"This technology also enables a new class of applications, allowing things like data mining applications to run," Dougherty said. "As these applications catch on in a bigger way and as customers move to 64-bit implementations, they will look at these as well.

"There's a whole set of users out there who are very concerned about mining data about their customers and making all the connections in their disparate businesses -- you only need to look at the banks and all the consolidation that's gone on. In many cases they don't understand the relationships they have, and this helps them do that."

In line with this, Micromass, which produces Mass Spectrometers, has been partnering with IBM and has announced the ProteinLynx Global Server, a 64-bit Java application for AIX 5L that is expected to be used by scientists involved in diverse areas such as cell research and drug development.

"While Micromass is our first customer to have built an application on the 64-bit Java platform, we expect to see an increasing number of others follow suit," Dougherty said.