matt | April 27, 2009
So, this article had me thinking about computers, usage patterns, etc.
In general, for my normal computing tasks, a processor about as powerful as the Intel atom in my netbook is enough. Maybe something a little more powerful, so that the hulu/youtube/etc isn’t so choppy (it is a very little bit choppy).
The only things which really need horsepower are dedicated tasks – video and photo editing and transcoding, virtual machines, big compiles, etc. The problem is that a lot of the same requirements (memory, CPU, etc.) are necessary for gamers too. So, I can completely see the article as making sense for a large number of folks, but I’m not sure how far-reaching it will be unless games reduse their hardware requirements (which may already be happening – I’m not in that space, so I can’t tell).
This is similar to the ongoing laptop vs. desktop argument I’ve often had with my brother in law. He’s always been a big fan of mobile workstation class laptops, but the reality is that these laptops always lag 6-12 months behind your workstation class desktops. So, while they’re perfectly adequate machines, if you really need power, you’re not going to find it on a laptop (though they are vastly improved and now quite decent). Even he bows to this reality in that he has several VM servers and racks of special purpose machines available..
So, what does this all mean? Well, I suspect that your normal casual users will end up buying good enough machines, which will continue to get cheaper, as forecasted in the article. I think that your gamers will continue to buy higher end hardware, likely a laptop, and maybe will also have a subnotebook as well (just because they’re lighter). Your power users will end up with a subnotebook, a mobile workstation, a deskside workstation, and possibly some backend servers used for other purposes besides the media center servers and such.
So, basically not much will change at all – it will likely all just get cheaper.