Virtual realities Virtualization is another hot technology to keep an eye on next year. eWEEK Labs relies on VMware Workstation, ESX and GSX products, not only to maximize resources and consolidate hardware but also for testing and training purposes.I also expect IT managers to see a big performance upgrade when AMD and Intel begin offering virtualization technologies built into their chips next year. This means IT managers who choose to use hardware running these chipsonce they are availableshould see huge performance enhancements, as the chips will allow systems to be partitioned and enabled to run multiple operating systems much more efficiently than they can now. Unfounded fears Late last year, it managers were concerned that IBMs sale of its PC business to Lenovo would herald changes to their beloved ThinkPad laptops. It turns out they had nothing to fear. Lenovo came out swinging with its first tablet PC for the ThinkPad line, the ThinkPad X41 Tablet. The Chinese computer company followed that up with the Z Series laptops, the first ThinkPads to sport a widescreen format and to be priced starting at less than $1,000. Lenovos Z Series laptops were also the first ThinkPads to offer a silver cover as an option, rather than just the standard black. One day, I, along with thousands of other ThinkPad devotees, will get over the shock of having a color choice. Lenovo wasnt the only company to stir things up this year. At Dell, rumors that the company is considering adding AMD to its lineup flared this fall after it began offering six of AMDs Athlon 64 chips for sale on Dells Web site. But keep in mind that these are individual parts onlyDell servers and PCs outfitted with AMD processors are not available from Dell. Although Dell remains an Intel-only system maker, its major competitorsIBM, Sun and Hewlett-Packardall sell servers with AMD processors. And, for now, Intel trails AMD in performance and time to market. While that may change by the time 2007 rolls around and Intel begins releasing quad-core chips, itll be interesting to see whether Dell remains devoted to Intel over the course of next year. Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.
VMware Workstation 5 is my pick for best new product of 2005, and it will be interesting to see what new features Microsoft, VMware and the open-source Xen virtualization technology will be able to offer next year.