Wednesday, March 23, 2005

[itsdifferent] Sun Makes Big Claims for the Multi-Tasking Virtual Machine (MVM)

An article at, Sun's main Java site, touts the virtues
of a research project on the Multi-Tasking Virtual Machine, (MVM).

Sun claims that, "The MVM is a general-purpose virtual machine for
executing multiple applications written in the Java language, based
on the Java HotSpot Virtual Machine and its client compiler. Through
hosting multiple tasks, the MVM increases the scalability of the
Java platform."

The key move seems to involve "developing techniques that allow for
collocation of multiple applications in a single instance of the
virtual machine," so that "applications are isolated from one
another and each 'thinks' it has the whole virtual machine all to

And the article claims that startup time is substantially reduced:
"When compared to the HotSpot Virtual Machine, from which it
derives, MVM reduces start-up time from 60% to 90%."

They claim that it is easy to put the MVM in CLDC and J2ME, and soon
in large, multi-tiered J2EE configurations.

Then Sun makes the rather ominous admission that the MVM is like an
operating system, so a bug in one application will bring the whole
OS down. But we are not to worry because it will be robust.

Summing up the benefits Sun claims: "For example, desktop users will
be able to simultaneously run more Java applications due to lowered
memory consumption. At the same time, reduced start-up time will
significantly improve their experience. Administrators of large
computer installations will welcome improved scalability. Developers
of middleware infrastructure, such as application servers, as well
as enterprise applications, which typically execute on server-class
computers or clusters, will also find MVM's programming interfaces

A research release of the MVM is soon to arrive. All this sounds
very impressive. I'm curious as to what degree of skepticism is
appropriate for the various claims. Any comments?

Imranahmed Petiwala

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