Digital Rules by Rich Karlgaard is almost always thought provoking. Recently he pointed to a fascinating article by George Gilder titled The Information Factories. Gilder talks about how we are moving towards massive centralized computing and what this means in terms of power consumption and computer design. He estimates that "the total of electricity consumed by major search engines in 2006 approaches 5 gigawatts….. Five gigawatts is almost enough to power the Las Vegas metropolitan area… on the hottest day of the year."
Gilder who is known as a futurist says that "For the moment, at least, the power of massive parallelism has far outstripped the promise of alternative computing architectures" but he anticipates that just as centralized computing gave way to the PC revolution the pendulum will swing again. New technologies and the next wave of innovation "will compress today’s parallel solutions…. and transform the calculus of storage, bandwidth, and power that gives centralization its current advantage."
I think it is prescient that when he is talking about the future of computing he quotes Andy Bechtolsheim who is one of Sun’s founders and is currently Sun’s Chief Architect and Senior Vice President of Network Systems. I predict and, in fact, hope that Sun will manage to lead the way into this new future.