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Why Java is Used In Embedded Systems?

For the longest time, C, C++, and assembler were the languages of choice for use by embedded developers. Tight hardware budgets meant that target processers were slow, had very few cores, and embedded software needed to be highly optimized, if not hand-tuned, to ensure a successful design. 

Spurred by the great success of power-sipping multicore processors with relatively high clock rates and embedded-friendly price points, Java has become a great alternative for embedded engineers and architects. As embedded OEMs take more connected devices to market, Java is an ideal development and runtime platform for sophisticated, feature-rich applications.

Here’s why Java turns out to be a better choice for embedded project teams:

1. You’ll get to market faster

  • Often the software is the last stage of development for an embedded product — getting the hardware stabilized can take a long time, and then the application software is integrated
  • Java is easier for teams to use than C, C++, or assembler
  • If you can get your application built, tested and debugged faster, you win

2. Your developers will be more productive

  • There are over twenty years’ worth of development tools, proven frameworks, and libraries available for Java developers
  • No other language comes close in terms of developer productivity when rapid development and high performance are required
  • Being able to build the new code you need without also re-inventing the wheel is key to developer productivity

3. You can keep your application logic separate from your hardware

  • Java was designed to ensure that applications could be architected, designed, built, and deployed without dependencies on the underlying hardware platform.
  • Embedded system developers and architects can target the hardware that makes sense for their from a cost and performance tradeoff, and if there’s a Java runtime for that processor, your code can move to that processor
  • You can deploy the same code on MIPS, Power, x86, Arm or SPARC — whatever makes sense from a cost and performance perspective

4. You can find engineers with Java skills

  • Java has consistently ranked either #1 n terms of language popularity for many years, and while some languages are briefly fashionable, Java remains at the top
  • …and that popularity is reflected in the number of Java developers who are available — most estimates call out at least 10 million — distributed globally
  • It is true that great C and C++ engineers are a treasured resource within many organizations — and it is also true that (1) they are scarce, making it difficult to add engineers quickly and (2) their code can take more time for other developers to understand, making rapid modification, adding new features, or even bug-fixing take more time than a Java-based project team

5. Java code can even be faster

  • That’s what our customers have discovered
  • Their comments are scattered throughout various Tweets and blogs — Read More
  • In fact, if your Java application shows worse performance or higher memory usage compared to your old JVM, the Azul Support and Engineering teams will handle this as a bug
  • Unlike traditional languages, Java’ just-in-time (JIT) compilation ensures that your code is continually optimized based upon what the application requires.
  • In real-world applications, when you deploy a new CPU with new instructions, Java takes immediate advantage of the new feature set. A C++ program will need to be recompiled to potentially adapt to a new feature set, and any assembler code will have to be explicitly rewritten to take advantage of a new set of instructions. 

6. Lots of tooling exists to manage and monitor Java 

  • Chances are, most Zulu Embedded accounts will call our Support organization rarely (even though they are great, with a phenomenal renewal rate)
  • However, security updates and platform-level patches and bug fixes are essential for any Java-based business — and that’s the value we bring to your product team
  • Zulu Embedded customers have access to quarterly updates PLUS out-of-band fixes that we identify
  • Plus, any changes we make are upstreamed back to the OpenJDK community

7. You won’t get locked in

  • Java is developed in the open, and the code is readily available from the OpenJDK project
  • If you don’t like the vendor standing behind one particular build of OpenJDK, there are others to choose from
  • You can choose to build your own in-house JVM team, rely upon a free download, or team with a partner who has a support offering that fits your requirements 

8. So, why talk to us? 

  • Here at Azul Systems, we are 100% focused on Java and the JVM
  • We have deep embedded Java engineering bench strength
  • We can help make sure your application is meeting your performance targets, and we can even help you debug critical timing and interface issues between your application and your hardware and software stack
  • …and there are millions of devices in hundreds of use cases running Zulu Embedded, our 100% open source builds of OpenJDK

9. Ready to learn more? 

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