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Java, as a safe and platform independent language, avoids access to low-level I/O devices or direct memory access. In standard Java, low-level I/O it not a concern; it is handled by the operating system. However, in the embedded domain resources are scarce and a Java virtual machine (JVM) without an underlying middleware is an attractive architecture. When running the JVM on bare metal, we need access to I/O devices from Java; therefore we investigate a safe and efficient mechanism to represent I/O devices as first class Java objects, where device registers are represented by object fields. Access to those registers is safe as Java's type system regulates it. The access is also fast as it is directly performed by the bytecodes getfield and putfield. Hardware objects thus provide an object-oriented abstraction of low-level hardware devices. As a proof of concept, we have implemented hardware objects in three quite different JVMs: in the Java processor JOP, the JIT compiler CACAO, and in the interpreting embedded JVM SimpleRTJ.
Date of Conference: 5-7 May 2008