mal> There's some good work out there by Skip Montanaro to revamp the VM mal> into a combined register/stack machine. He calls it rattlesnake. mal> More infos can be found in the list archive (it's currently mal> sleeping):
Thanks to Marc-Andre for mentioning this. Rattlesnake is indeed sleeping at the moment. If anyone is interested in the idea I'd be happy to awaken it.
The main observation was that much of the virtual machine's activity is pushing/popping objects to/from the stack. By treating a chunk of storage as a register file much of that churn can be avoided.