Sun releases real-time spec for Java

Sun Microsystems Inc., as expected, today announced a Java specification for the consumer and embedded systems market.

Sun Microsystems Inc., as expected, today announced a Java specification for the consumer and embedded systems market.

The Real-Time Specification for Java has been made available for comment to Java licensees and non-licensees who have agreed to participate in the Java Community Process, Sun's organization for setting Java standards. Some 300 licensees and non-licensees are eligible to participate in the review.

The announcement was made at the Embedded Systems Conference under way this week in San Jose, Calif.

Greg Bollella, head of the Real-Time Expert Group that is writing the spec, said the proposed standard is very different from the embedded Java specification released this week for public review by the J Consortium.

The J Consortium, comprising some 40 companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp., is developing its own standard for Java in the consumer and embedded market. The group has gone its own way because many of the participants believe Sun has too much control over the Java Community Process.

Trouble ahead?

Bollella said the Real-Time Specification for Java is much broader than the J Consortium's spec, covering the use of Java in a wider variety of devices, from factory automation to set-top boxes for surfing the Web via a TV.

In addition, the J Consortium has introduced extensions to the Java language, which means applications could not be compiled using standard Java compilers, said Bollella, an IBM embedded Java expert.

"If you write a program to their specification with their syntactic changes, then of course it wouldn't compile with a regular Java compiler, nor would it run on our system," Bollella said.

The current review for the Real-Time Specification for Java will run at least 30 days. A public review is planned by the end of the year, with the final specification and reference implementation slated to be available by mid-2000.

The final J Consortium specification is scheduled for release by the end of the year.

The specifications define a set of application programming interfaces for accessing services provided by the real-time operating systems found in millions of devices, ranging from microwaves and factory robots to cellular phones and PDAs. Depending on the system, the RTOS may also have a JVM, which the APIs would also cover.