<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The new data architecture 

Wired
Google apparently has responded by replicating everything everywhere. The system is intensively redundant; if one server fails, the other half million don't know or care. But this creates new challenges. The software must break up every problem into ever more parallel processes. In the end, each ingenious solution becomes the new problem of a specialized, even sclerotic, device. The petascale machine faces the peril of becoming a kludge.

Could that happen to Google and its followers?

Google's magical ability to distribute a search query among untold numbers of processors and integrate the results for delivery to a specific user demands the utmost central control. This triumph of centralization is a strange, belated vindication of Grosch's law, the claim by IBM's Herbert Grosch in 1953 that computer power rises by the square of the price. That is, the more costly the computer, the better its price-performance ratio. Low-cost computers could not compete. In the end, a few huge machines would serve all the world's computing needs. Such thinking supposedly prompted Grosch's colleague Thomas Watson to predict a total global computing market of five mainframes.

The advent of personal computers dealt Grosch's law a decisive defeat. Suddenly, inexpensive commodity desktop PCs were thousands of times more cost-effective than mainframes.

In this way, the success of the highly centralized computer-on-a-planet runs counter to the current that has swept the computer industry for decades. The advantages of the new architecture may last only until the centripetal forces pulling intelligence to the core of the network give way, once again, to the silicon centrifuge dispelling it to the edges. Google has pioneered the miracle play of wringing supercomputer performance from commodity CPUs, and this strategy is likely to succeed as long as microchip progress remains in the doldrums. But semiconductor and optical technologies are on the verge of a new leap forward.

The next wave of innovation will compress today's parallel solutions in an evolutionary convergence of electronics and optics: 3-D and even holographic memory cells; lasers inscribed on the tops of chips, replacing copper pins with streams of photons; and all-optical networks in which thousands of colors of light travel along a single fiber. As these advances find their way into an increasing variety of devices, the petascale computer will shrink from a dinosaur to a teleputer – the successor to today's handhelds – in your ear or in your signal path. It will access a variety of searchers and servers, enabling participation in metaverses beyond the ken of even Ray Kurzweil's prophetic imagination. Moreover, it will link to trillions of sensors around the globe, giving it a constant knowledge of the physical state of the world, from traffic conditions to the workings of your own biomachine.

Topics: Web2.0 Data2.0 | Architecture


Links to this post:

<\$BlogItemBacklinkCreate\$>

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?