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By | Dan Goodin 23rd March 2007 20:54

All hail the Java-based x86 emulator

Secure and flexible

Researchers at Oxford have built an x86 emulator that runs purely on Java, making it ideal for security researchers who want to analyze and archive viruses, host honeypots and defend themselves against buggy or malicious software without hosing their machines. The JPC also emulates a host of other environments, giving technophiles the ability to play Asteroids and other software that's sat on shelves for years collecting dust.

What's more, JPC will run on any device with a Java virtual machine, so cell phones, set-top boxes and RISC systems are all fair game, according to researchers in the university's physics department, where the project was developed.

"Some might see JPC as part of a nefarious plot by mad scientists who want to harness every last CPU in the world for their research - but we prefer to see JPC as Java-hardened protection against their buggy programs," they say. JPC's Java-based architecture gives it cross-platform capability, the security of running code in the Java sandbox and the flexibility of configuring virtualization platforms and software libraries.

The researchers boast its x86 emulation, at 10 per cent native speed, puts it among the fastest x86 emulators. (Note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported JPC emulated other environments.) ®

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