Computing 2010

pc.jpgToday, I came across an interesting article in the Forbes Magazine entitled “Computing 2010″. The interesting part is that this article was written ten years ago. The author, Kip Crosby, imagined what computers would look like in 2010: optical circuits instead of silicon, with a CPU running at 100 GHz, holographic mass storage offering several TB capacity, 256 GB optoelectronic RAM, biometric authentication, voice control, completely wireless and shaped like a frisbee. Whew! Looks like Kip was just a tad too optimistic. Optoelectronics hasn’t caught on and most computers are still boxy rather than frisbee-ish. In fact, todays’s PC looks pretty much like that of 2000, except that its capacity has increased roughly following Moore’s law. The only accurate prediction is about mass storage capacity, although that didn’t require optical technology.

Personally, I’ve begun the new computing year with a major upgrade, though still far away from Kip’s 2010 vision. I have replaced my 32-bit Windows OS with a 64-bit Linux OS, doubled RAM from 4 GB to 8 GB and added another external USB hard drive for backups. The Ubuntu installation turned out a little difficult, because Linux did not want to cooperate with the BIOS RAID-1 configuration, so I had to switch to SATA mode and wipe out the Windows installation. The rest was easy, however. I used to worry about not being able to make my 3G USB modem work with Linux, but our maid has solved this problem for me. She obliterated the device by putting it into the washing machine. Can’t really blame her for that. I probably shouldn’t have carried the modem in the pockets of my shorts.

Back to the topic. What are the computing trends in 2010? Just off the top of my head: cloud computing is becoming a mainstream technology (or perhaps a mainstream buzz; time will tell). Along with that, virtualisation is now widely used. Supercomputers have broken the petaflop mark and now operate in the range of large clouds (> 1 PFlop). CRT monitors are quickly becoming relics of a past epoch. Single-core CPUs are headed the same way. Functional programming languages are beginning to catch on. 64-bit hardware and software are overtaking 32-bit systems in mainstream IT. Java 7 is announced for 2010. It surely looks like an interesting year.