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@erbo I guess you misunderstood a couple of points
1) Not talking about processors which can run on all trype of servers or clusters. I won't worry about HPC or anything like that at the moment. The main concern is webserver environments which is most likely the most used server use case for most of the web companies out there.
2) Not talking about any general purpose single board computers like Pi or Beagleboard. They are not exactly designed for such a use. I was talking about specialized boards like Calxeda's
BTW, just in - Facebook is testing Calxeda ARM boards in their data centers (I guess that must be for the webserver side of their apps)
And congrats for your Pi :-)
8 months ago on A Lot of Lead Bullets: A Blistering Response to the NYT on Data Center Efficiency
@erbo Well, I guess it will happen sooner than we all think. HP & Boston are already shipping ARM based cloud servers which draws 5W power! Atleast 3 Linux distros have their own ARM versions. XEN, which powers Amazon Cloud has also released their ARM builds. Openstack, another higher level cloud platform has also released ARM versions.
Software compatibility is not a big issue if the customer want to run a cloud. Because cloud will run on virtual machines where providers like XEN can fix software issues (compared to chip makers like Intel) quickly. making their software run on different architectures is their USP after all, right?
Now, the argument of 'old servers will still be used' will not stand well too. Because the ARM based servers may come cheaper than the used ones (Also consider that old servers may fail sooner). Again, even if companies buy old hardware, it may still better because they are not buying the OLDER (and thus more inefficient) hardware, right? The shift to ARM will always do good from that standpoint.
Well, there are other players like VIA who ships low cost, low power processors. They are getting good interest from webhosting industry. Their chips are said to be better performing than Intel Atoms (yes certain Atoms are used in servers too).
E-waste issue - well, that's a different problem and need to be solved differently. This will be there irrespective of what you do in the server innovation space. Servers will die off eventually anyways.
I don't see much problem in their article. They are surely smoothened up a little to make sure people understand stuff. While a Phd like you saying "Servers are as powerful as a laptop" is senseless. How many dual socket quadcore laptops have you seen? Or can you even find a dualcore servers anymore? You won't. Because these are two different things.
When will we learn to save anything? Why should we withstand utter wastage of everything? Are you worried about diesel consumption getting reduced and the economy falls because of it? Hell with it, let it fall. It will be once for all.
Whatever it is, a company called ARM is working hard to cut the power consumption dramatically. All major internet companies will gradually switch to ARM processors. You can't help it irrespective of what you said above.