Mega-Gates, Mega-Bytes and Mega-Bits

A friend suggested a presentation by Duane Northcutt (Vice President of System Architecture Silicon Image) on how the three forces of cheap silicon, storage and bandwidth are changing computing. Duane discusses a sever-centric architecture – a “virtualised computational environment”, with stateless thin clients. Duane earlier worked at Sun on the Sun Ray. Some of his points:

Beginning of New Era
– New cost/performance points in storage and communications
– Allows/demands re-thinking of old tradeoffs
– Offers new cheap commodities to burn in order to optimize some other factors
– Retain the good parts of the current model, but eliminate (or reduce) the bad and ugly bits
– The next phase in the evolution of computing will be dominated by communications technology

Next-Generation Architecture
– Repartition the system only user accessed peripheral devices at end-points, no state/computing
– Consolidated computation and storage for greater efficiency and accessibility
– Global, fast, interactive access via ubiquitous display consoles (e.g., telephones)
– A sea of anonymous computers (including laptops)
– Simplified/automated system administration/ management

Conclusions
– Shifts underway in the forces that shape computing
– Computing defined by Moores Law giving way to new model driven by bandwidth
– Storage can make up for the lack of unlimited, ubiquitous bandwidth
– Enables new architectural model
— Consolidation of clients (through remote display technology)
— Transparent migration (through virtualized computing environments)
– Shift provides major opportunity for telecoms provide service, not just connectivity

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