HOUSTON The latest salvo in the war between Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. for control of real-time Java will be fired this week, when an HP-led coalition is expected to announce it has linked up with a standards body to formally oversee its effort to forge a real-time specification.
Separately, Sun is moving forward with the development of its own real-time Java spec, under a process that company officials said is open and takes into account feedback from both its licensees and the broader Java community.
The split between Sun and HP over real-time Java first came into public view last month at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, Calif. There, HP and some 25 vendors officially launched their thrust under the banner of the Real-Time Java Working Group, a coalition widely referred to as the "splinter group," to distinguish it from Sun's ongoing spec effort.
However, the embedded community isn't cleanly divided on the issue. Indeed, many Java vendors are keeping a foot in both camps. In addition, HP and Sun are each using as a technical starting point a real-time requirements document created by a National Institute of Standards and Technology group in which both companies participated.
The splinter group could gain added credibility if NCITS, the National Committee for Information Technology Standardization, votes to take the splinter group's effort under its wing. NCITS, formerly known as X3, is the body that created specs for a number of programming languages including C, C + and Fortran.
An NCITS committee will vote on the splinter group's plan to proceed with development of the real-time spec on Dec. 1 or 2. Anticipating a positive outcome, leaders of the splinter group have drafted a statement for release after the vote stating that "The acceptance of the group's proposal by NCITS clears the way for the creation of a true standard in an open, vendor-neutral forum."
Moving forward, the embedded community is likely to be roiled by continued friction over the dueling real-time efforts.
"Sun has had some success with other Java standards, but the embedded-systems world is just a little too fragmented to say, 'We'll let Sun and a few of their licensees do their standard and we'll all follow along,'" said Tucker Taft, technical director of splinter-group member Intermetrics (Burlington, Mass.).
"It's not worth our time to comment," said a Sun executive said of the latest splinter-group development.
Sun and HP first locked horns over Java earlier this year, when both companies came out with separate embedded implementations.
Sun launched its EmbeddedJava technology in March with an impressive list of licensees, including Acorn, Chorus (now owned by Sun), Geoworks, Lucent Technologies, Mentor Graphic's Microtec division, Microware Systems, Motorola, QNX Software Systems, US Software and Wind River Systems.
Almost simultaneously, HP debuted its own embedded Java technology. Microsoft licensed HP's Java Virtual Machine with plans to integrate it into its Windows CE operating system. HP has also inked licensing deals with real-time operating system vendors Integrated Systems, Lynx Real-Time Systems, Microware and QNX. In addition, Wind River endorsed though it did not formally license the HP technology.