Predictions for 2009

I’m not usually one to make predictions. It’s hard for me to tell the difference between a prediction and wishful thinking. But this article over at the Inquirer (still the best place to get an honest take on the industry along with /.) got me thinking about a couple of things I think are going to be important in 2009. So here we go…

2009: The Year of the GPGPU

This is more a continuation of a trend but the Inq article made some great points that I think will put some spotlight on general purpose programming with GPUs. The key one, is the recent standardization of a cross platform way of programming these things, OpenCL. ATI and nVidia have already signed up to provide OpenCL support for their chips and look for Intel’s Larrabee platform to come with the same. I think there is still some software and hardware architectural things that need to be done to make GPGPU more efficient and easier to program. Look for LLVM (which needs an article on it’s own) to play a role, as it already is with OpenGL, and look for one of the chip vendors to put a GPU on the memory bus shared with the CPU and make these things sing.

2009: The year of WebKit

Ok, yes, I’m playing it safe with these predictions. WebKit is already the base for Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and a host of Linux based browsers, so it already has a ton of momentum. The reason I think WebKit is going to the next level, is first of all the top of the class performance of it’s new JavaScript VM (and I can’t imagine why Google would continue with V8 in Chrome). But also, I am impressed with how easy it is to create your own WebKit based browser, and how easy it is to create a Linux based platform that uses WebKit as it’s front end (launch X, launch a simplified WebKit shell in fullscreen, done). I expect to see a lot more mobile internet devices built this way. At the very least, it gives a reason for embedded developers to care about AJAX.

C++0x won’t be C++09

I think that’s a forgone conclusion but no one really wants to admit it yet. But look for the vote to finish this year at least. C++0x will be an exciting evolution of C++ into the next generation. No it doesn’t have garbage collection, yet, but it does have smart pointers that do the job better if you use them right. C++0x makes it easier to do a lot of things, and the introduction of closures and lambda functions and expressions will breath some life into this stalwart of the software engineering community.

Well, that’s it for now. If I think of more over the next couple of days I’ll post them. There are a lot of things I hope will happen, but i’m not sure they will. But one thing is for sure, open source is here to stay and is becoming a core business model that companies still need to understand and learn to use effectively and I will continue with my work with Eclipse and Wind River to help figure that out and spread the word.

Have a safe and happy New Year! See you on the other side.