The Next Wave of Computing: One Device to Rule them All?
With the help of ‘smartclients,’ gaming may be the leader into computing’s future.
The tech world is currently dislocated. The gaming market is fragmented and the PC concept seems to have no clear direction or leader. Developers and users want a return back to a simpler time where one device could be used for multiple functions instead of a collection of new, complicated devices that are incompatible with everything else.
One possible solution to gaming’s problems, Onlive, was announced last month. Onlive would utilize a private cloud to link up and deliver content, mostly video games. But as for everything else, it’s currently up for grabs between Microsoft and Google and computing’s next big move, called “3rd Rebirth.”
The idea of a small device that could very well handle a selection of single tasks was introduced by iPhone. Apple is rumored to be in the netbook game, and HP is supposedly in development with an Android powered netbook. The system composed of a small, inexpensive device connected with a back-end computing service could be coming to fruition with the second half of the system being handled by a private cloud.
VMware (NYSE: VMW), EMC (NYSE: EMC) and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) are companies that are currently showcasing the private cloud concept. The private cloud concept has the cost advantages of cloud computing with the addition of being much more secure, reliable and contained.
The next generation of computing may likely be defined by the operating systems war that will touch off between Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Of course Microsoft and Apple are vastly more established, but have current OS that must avoid doing battle with the new OS they develop. This cannibalization process may end up evening the field for Google.
Introducing the SmartClient:
Google’s initial offering isn’t expected until 2010. It will be a cross between thin clients and PCs, defined here as “smartclients”.
It has been largely believed that back-end performance would be inadequate for today’s market, but with the consolidation of various platforms that is underway, starting with gaming, this may no longer be the case.
Solving Gaming’s Problems:
Gaming’s first cycle came to an end with Atari being the last one standing. It was soon overwhelmed with low-quality games. For a short period there was one platform that everyone could focus on.
With PC gaming consistently falling short, game consoles have flourished under Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Sony and Nintendo spawned smaller versions and there were 5 gaming platforms with a new one said to be on the way. In this system bridging 2 platforms with 1 game is near impossible.
The PC never seemed to get into the gaming world. There was hope that the PC would eventually displace the consoles, but it has never materialized. PCs and gaming systems have very different sets of strengths and weaknesses that remain in place today.
Enter the ‘SmartClient’:
Despite Apple’s avoidance of gaming, it has been the iPhone model that is currently drawing the majority of the gaming buzz. More so that both PCs and gaming systems.
The situation has not been beneficial for anyone. Developers and users all must gamble when producing and buying consoles and games on what will be the other’s choice. It has been inefficient, but it has continued to seem to be what both consumers and developers want.
Is the ‘smartclient’ the answer?
It has long been believed that evolution would go the way of PCs, and eventually TVs would be on their way out. Over time though, it seems to be going the opposite direction.
Google appears to be betting on TVs in the race in an attempt to displace Microsoft. It is depending on the development of devices that are similar to smartphones and TVs instead of the PC direction.
The computing Renaissance:
But Google will be dependant upon the new presence of the private cloud. Without it, smartclient-like devices will be relatively limited and unable to give the performance needed to compete with the PCs.
Onlive should be the first major test of whether or not the performance expected from a PC can be achieved through a smartclient type of device. If it is successful, it could possibly change gaming forever by making the gaming systems and PC gaming completely obsolete. We then would be able to have an appliance-like device complete with PC capabilities. With this we should be into the aforementioned 3rd rebirth of computers.
As of now the current crop of netbooks would be unable to make the impact necessary to start the push to the next level.
The ‘CloneCloud’ by Intel:
But the concept ‘CloneCloud’ has just been introduced. This would provide the ability to mirror the virtual polymorphic image of a low-powered desktop device, like a netbook, in the cloud, and sync the two constantly. This will provide a full on PC-type of experience, with the benefit of private cloud-type assistance. This would allow for a new world of tasks that wouldn’t even require the client PC to be turned on; only the virtual client running. You could then be able to switch between running a high level game, transcoding a movie while the third was running an intensive virus scan.
It’s hard to predict the future, especially in the tech world, but massive change is coming in the near to immediate future… Are you ready?