Apple announced the latest version of their MacOS Runtime for Java (MRJ), which brings Apple up to date with version 1.1.7 of Sun's Java Development Kit. This updated implementation of the Java Virtual Machine should provide improved compatibility and performance.
The new MRJ incorporates the latest Sun security fix, updates JDK compatibility and fixes some previous bugs. It also adds Symantec Corporation's latest Just In Time (JIT) compiler for Java, with improved graphics, threading and networking.
Apple is claiming, based on Pendragon's CaffeineMark scores, that the new MRJ is five times faster than previous versions. They performed this testing with version 2.0 of the MRJ (version 2.1.1 is available).
In Macworld's Lab, we tested the new version of the MRJ with Ziff-Davis' JMark 1.0. We saw a substantial improvement in the Processor test, and on some graphics tests. Our scores were generally twice as fast with MRJ 2.1.2, compared to MRJ 2.0. The new MRJ also did a better job of drawing the screens in JMark's AWT (Abstract Windows Toolkit) test, but exhibited some problems setting the background screen.
As a hint of things to come, at the Developer's Conference opening Keynote, Apple showed an early version of the MRJ for Java2. The performance was impressive even without a complete JIT.
MRJ 2.1.2 works with Microsoft Internet Explorer or the Apple Applet Runner. Netscape Communicator and Navigator include their own internal Java virtual machine and will not work with Apple's MRJ. Apple says that it is working with Netscape to develop a version of Netscape's browser that will incorporate MRJ.
The new version requires a PowerPC processor with 24 MB of RAM, running OS 7.6.1 or higher. MRJ 2.1.2 is available for download from Apple's Web site at http://www.apple.com/java/.