SAN MATEO, Calif. Ajile Systems Inc. now offers a soft version of its low-power Java processor core, a move that adds another competitor to the growing roster of Java coprocessor providers eyeing PDAs and next-generation mobile phones.
The Jemcore, which has already been ported to fabs at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacting Co. and Conexant, functions as a standalone Java processor that accelerates all but two of the 220 Java instructions in hardware. The company envisions the synthesizeable core as part of a larger system-on-chip device that may include a separate RISC core, which would go into idle mode when Java is running.
This approach differs from that taken by other Java hardware providers, such as ARM and Nazomi Communications. These companies have come out with coprocessors that execute Java code in conjunction with a closely coupled native RISC processor.
But Ajile considers embedded systems to be better served with a Java core that functions as a separate entity, which it said will result in better performance and lower power consumption. In a system-on-chip implementation the Jemcore can be set up to share the bus and external memory with the native processor, but would otherwise act as a standalone processor.
Jemcore is capable of multithreading and includes a real-time kernel on-board, so that there's no need for an external real-time operating system. "This results in a smaller memory footprint, saves cost and reduces the system's power consumption," said Danh Le Ngoc, vice president of marketing for Ajile (San Jose, Calif.).
The 32-bit Jemcore also comes with Sun's Java 2 Micro Edition Connected Limited Device Configuration (J2ME/CLDC) as well as a cycle-accurate simulator, application builder, debuggers and evaluation board.
Low power consumption is one of Jemcore's key attributes, the company said. It requires 25,000 gates, which works out to less than 1 mm2 of silicon based on 0.25-micron design ru les. This helps keep a lid on power consumption for the device, which dissipates less than 1 mW/MHz at 100 MHz. If the core is ported to a 0.18-micron process, the power consumption drops to less than 0.5 mW/MHz at speeds up to 170 MHz.
And because it executes nearly all the Java instructions in hardware, the interrupt response time is less than 1 microsecond at 100-MHz operation, Ngoc said. The company has demonstrated how the processor can run graphics written in Java at 15 frames/second on a 320 x 240-pixel color display.
Ajile's road map calls for further enhancements to its Java processor architecture, including added digital signal processing functionality. The next version of the architecture should be completed by early next year, Ngoc said.
The nearly two-year-old company, which has been providing Java processors since 1997 when its development team was part of Rockwell Collins, will also continue to provide standalone Java processors, Ngoc said.