Lightweight chips get heavyweight language

Java for ARM developer preview posted online

Elliot Bentley

You can now get some Java (and, if you feel like it, JavaFX) in your Raspberry Pi with the JDK 8 Developer Preview for ARM.

Oracle have released a developer preview of Java for ARM to gather feedback ahead of the release of Java SE 8 next year.

Announced at JavaOne earlier this year, Java for ARM is being touted as a good platform for running rich JavaFX applications, though it is of course capable of running plain old Java too.

ARM CPUs have been in use for decades, powering lightweight devices like the Apple Newton and Nintendo Gameboy Advance thanks to their relatively low power consumption. However, recent growth in the smartphone and tablet markets, as well as recent increases in power has led to a surge of interest in ARM chips.

Even Microsoft has adopted ARM – the first version of the Surface tablet is ARM-powered, running a subset of Windows 8 called Windows RT. Supporting for its chips is likely to become even more important to developers as ARM expands into servers.

However, for many hackers the most exciting consequence of Java for ARM is that it can be run on the lightweight Raspberry Pi computer, which retails for just $35. JavaFX evangelist Stephen Chin showed off an early build of ARM-compatible Java on his European nighthacking tour, running the same JavaFX app on both his MacBook and Raspberry Pi.

The developer preview is available to download now, and Chin has published an installation guide.

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