Where Is Hardware's Innovation?

Rob Daly, Sell-Side Technology

Earlier this week, I spoke to a contact in the networking industry about the state of private investment in hardware vendors. We concluded that times have certainly changed, as innovations in hardware have been supplanted by interest in social media firms with sizable user bases.

I cut my teeth as a technology journalist watching Ethernet beat out other networking technologies like Token Ring and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) to become the dominant standard. Ethernet then begat Fast Ethernet and finally Gigabit Ethernet (GbE). Now that bonded 10 GbE connections can link to cloud computing environments powered by multi-core 2.6 GHz processors, have these technologies reached their pinnacle of performance until the next disruptive technologies pop up?

Conversations about hardware these days seem to focus on how to reduce power consumption, and how to scale out rather than up.

The most disruptive trend seems to be the offloading of computing workload to field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and graphical processing units (GPUs). More and more offerings have taken on the characteristics of computing appliances rather than full-blown servers. But since appliances have always had the negative connotation of vendor lock-in, will their benefits be strong enough to overcome these concerns?

Send me your thoughts at [email protected]

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