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McNealy: Rattling cages is good for Sun

On his Asian tour, Sun's CEO tells reporters that being controversial is good for business--then describes Intel's Itanium chip as a "serious disaster."

SINGAPORE--Being controversial helps Sun Microsystems stand out in a highly commoditized technology market, CEO Scott McNealy says.

"I can't worry about skepticism. If there's no controversy, and everybody buys into our ideas and follows them, there is no chance of making money," McNealy told reporters at a press briefing following his public address here Wednesday.

"The question is whether we have a controversial and right strategy. If so, we'll make a lot of money," he said.

During the public speech, McNealy gave his take on the future network and debatable developments that will constitute "the next big thing in technology"--all powered by Sun's products, of course.

He put forward the company's bold N1 and "throughput computing" efforts under which new layers of software will be designed to better coordinate and utilize computing and storage power in corporate systems.

In addition, McNealy envisioned a world where handheld devices and Java smart cards will provide users with secure mobility and ubiquitous access to the Internet, possibly rendering the present-day PC redundant. As an example, user identities can be stored in Java smart cards while their desktop information and applications are saved on the enterprise server.

People only need to go to a 'dumb' client such as a Sun Ray workstation, slide their Java cards through and they will be able be retrieve their desktop, McNealy said. This way, people are not bound to their terminals, and in instances like an office move, no tedious reconfiguration is necessary.

Unlike PCs, which house their own processors, Sun Ray desktops mostly rely on a central server to do most processing tasks. They are equipped with smart card readers for user authentication.

While the concept of having an all-in-one card may seem far-fetched for most countries, McNealy feels it could be feasible in a small but technologically advanced state like Singapore.

"This is probably the only place on the planet to be able to realize this Java card vision," he said.

Describing Intel's Itanium chip as a "serious disaster from a very good company," McNealy confirmed plans for the launch of a new Sun microprocessor next year. Dubbed Niagara, the new processor will come with eight processor cores that can handle four instructions each, he said.

McNealy left Singapore last night to continue the Australian and Indian leg of his Asian tour, where more gibes against rivals like Microsoft and Intel can be expected.

CNET Asia's Winston Chai reported from Singapore.