The Raritan Blog

How desktop technology drives data centres

July 15, 2010

One would assume that data centers are a place where high tech gets introduced and the mass PC market is a followers market. However, there are plenty of examples where it is just the other way around. For years the processor market was driven by the battle between Intel® and AMD®. This battle was fought where the volume was and is — consumer PCs.  Another good example is the keyboard interface. Servers still used PS/2 when it was already hard to get a non-USB keyboard for consumer PCs. Also, the good old VGA interface has only survived in the metal rack cabinets of data centers and data rooms.

Two more innovations from the mainstream consumer PC market are about to enter the DC world and worth to be mentioned:

  • Thanks to the move towards notebooks, the most critical parameter in today's PC world is battery lifetime, which translates into power consumption.  Power management is meanwhile the most debated issue in Data Centers and we see all the wisdom of notebook design including Intels Atom® technology arriving in the DC rooms.


  • Wireless is evil — was the opinion of System Administrators a couple of years ago when discussing the use of WLAN in offices. The rest is history. Now wireless technologies move into DC in the form of wireless sensors using WLAN or other low bandwidth wireless technologies. It's again only a question of time until we will see discussions on a standard wireless interface for server components.

The most recent change in the desktop mass market is the net book - simple, limited in function but cheap. Most people don’t care about the OS running, they use the device for very standardized transactions such as email or web surfing. If the device breaks it not worth repairing - the user just gets a new one.

In data centres this kind of race is still on. In Intel name space it's called Nehalem versus Atom. Who will dominate? Time  - or history - will tell.