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Sun Proposes Modification to Java Programming Language's Floating Point Specification

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01 May 1998

Sun Proposes Modification to Java Programming Language's Floating Point Specification

Sun Microsystems, Inc. has proposed to its Java platform licensees a modification to the Java programming language and Java virtual machine specifications. The proposed modification would amend the way the Java platform handles floating point calculations. Sun developed the proposed modification with input from several companies in the industry, including IBM, Intel and others.

Once the Java platform licensees have reviewed and commented on the proposed modification, Sun will incorporate their feedback and then open the proposed modification to public review. The public review is expected to begin May 1.

The Java programming language and Java virtual machine specifications currently state that the results of floating point calculations must be rounded to IEEE 754 single precision (32 bit) or double precision (64 bit) values. On some processors, such as Intel Architecture and the PowerPC, performance would be improved if the specification allowed floating point computations to be done at greater precision. With input from the industry (see addendum) Sun is proposing amendments to the programming language and virtual machine specifications that would permit intermediate calculations to be done using IEEE 754 extended formats.

"Sun has heard from several customers and partners in the open systems industry concerning the Java platform's floating point specification. Many developers are looking to exploit the power of current and future chip architectures," said Jon Kannegaard, vice president of software products at Sun's JavaSoft division. "We've defined this proposed modification to address that issue. We're always working to refine the Java platform so that it meets the needs of the community."

The Public Review Process Every proposed modification to the Java platform specifications goes through a well-defined, open, process. First, a subcommittee reviews the proposed change or addition to the Java spec and creates a proposed draft.

After the subcommittee review is completed, Sun submits the proposed change to its licensees for review. Licensee comments and feedback are incorporated into the proposal before the proposal is submitted for public review. Once the public review process is complete and feedback has been reviewed and incorporated as appropriate, Sun makes the final specification available.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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