Seven predictions for 2007

Sun gets its mojo back, mean tech beats green tech

Calling your shot. That's the phrase in baseball when a batter points his or her bat to a section of the park, then proceeds to hit a home run to that very spot. Babe Ruth is rumored to have done it once in the 1932 World Series. But even that feat is in doubt. Suffice it to say that calling your shot in a fluky game such as baseball, with its rotating spheres and cylindrical bats, is almost impossible.

Rather than call the shot, why not just wave your bat around as you step up to the plate, pointing to every part of the outfield, then try to hit a home run that just goes somewhere? In our last issue of 2006, with the new year closing in, that's the approach we've decided to take: bringing you five, bold, Babe Ruth-quality predictions of things we think will happen sometime in the next 12 months.

The prodigal Sun returns

It's no secret that Sun Microsystems has seen better days. Once the darling of the dot-com set, Sun's stock now trades for less than one-tenth of its peak price in September 2000. Its product portfolio is virtually bursting at the seams with great technology, and yet analysts and the media alike have repeatedly taken it to task for its apparent failure to capitalize on its assets. Don't count Sun out yet, though. If it plays its cards right, 2007 could be the year it sees its fortunes reverse, emerging as the new champion of open source software in the enterprise.

Sun may have started the climb back to the top with its decision, after years of equivocation, to commit to the process of opening its flagship Java platform under the GNU GPL (General Public License). That announcement in November was barely heard amid the noise of megadeals such as Red Hat's purchase of JBoss or Microsoft's partnership with Novell. But Sun's commitment to community development is unquestionable. Look for the company to continue to spread its message with an aggressive public relations campaign in 2007, including vocal participation in major standards bodies and open source communities. Partnerships seem likely, also. A renewed relationship with IBM could bolster the perception of Sun in corporate boardrooms, making 2007 the year that Sun rises (again) to prominence as one of the IT greats.

- Neil McAllister

Mean, not green, tech

Change swept through all sectors of the nuts-and-bolts world. Intel's introduction of its Core microarchitecture CPUs and related logic sounded the death knell for Pentium 4 Netburst and knocked down the brick wall that blocked Intel's road map.

Unlike Netburst, Core microarchitecture can grow, and it already has: Before the end of the year, Intel beat AMD to market with a quad-core CPU and platform nicknamed Kentsfield. It gave Intel bragging rights, but also signaled that Intel is taking the performance desktop market seriously. AMD and Intel are competing in the performance-per-watt arena, but they know that there are users who need or want to sacrifice green computing for mean computing. AMD's dual socket Quad FX (4x4) platform aims at the same market, but with Athlon 64 FX CPUs.

By mid-2007, 64-bit quad-core CPUs will be the de facto standard for x86 desktop and server computers. A sub-US$5,000 two-socket workstation or server will sport a mind-boggling eight processor cores. Intel engineered its dual core per socket Woodcrest server/workstation CPU to allow a four core per socket upgrade with nothing but a chip swap. AMD has done the same with Opteron and Athlon 64 FX systems built after Revision F. AMD's capacity to expand Opteron systems to eight sockets means that in 2007, IT can buy 32-way servers for the price it once paid for four-way servers. Talk about consolidation!

- Tom Yager

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