The World Needs Only Five Computers

Even though there’s no evidence that in 1943 [tag]IBM[/tag] Chairman Thomas J. Watson said “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”, this remark is attributed to him. And a recent CNET News article talks about [tag]Sun Microsystems[/tag] Chief Technology Officer [tag]Greg Papadopoulos[/tag]’ similar view, even though the scale of the computing power in Papadopoulos’ vision is very different from the scale in the original quote. So in his interview, Papadopoulos talks about five or six hyperscale computing centers, such as Google, eBay, etc. To appreciate the scale of computing better, the interviewer even mentions that eBay runs 8,000 or so computers. Wow! That’s a lot, right? At that scale, it’s certain that we’re only going to have 5 [tag]hyperscale[/tag] computers. Ever!

Well… I don’t think so. And I don’t think that we need to wait 60 years to laugh at that statement. Because, there’s a huge industry that is rapidly growing and that is not mentioned in this interview: The gaming/entertainment industry. Let me explain:

I don’t play video games and we definitely don’t develop any in DSI :). Like most of my generation (and worst in the younger generation I guess :)) I happen to have an addictive personality towards video gaming. When I start to play (I love role-playing games) I just forget about anything else and 5 real hours become 20 minutes in the dimension that I’m in. Anyway, you get the picture. However my brother is a hard-core gamer and he’s into [tag]Warcraft[/tag] these days (and believe me, it’s nothing like the first Warcraft I used to play 12 years ago). He’s paying a monthly subscription to play with other users all around the world. Do you know how many of them there are out there? A blog entry published in September 2006 claims that the game hit 7 million users and it is running on more than 9,000 servers. Hmmm… If eBay is impressive with their 8,000 servers, [tag]Blizzard[/tag] is more impressive with their 9,000 servers. That makes the sixth computer already. 🙂 Even though I don’t follow the gaming industry closely, it’s only a matter of time that more and more [tag]MMORPG[/tag]s (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) become like [tag]Warcraft[/tag]. Therefore it’s only a matter of time that the theory of only having 5 hyperscale computers becomes laughable.

– Yagiz Erkan –

  1. #1 by John Murphy on December 19, 2006 - 7:13 pm

    I just happen to think that its possible that future high demand gaming servers will be running on future versions of Amazon’s EC2 and S3 architecture.. Maybe..
    I am sure guys like ubisoft would prefer to be producing software rather than building out ranked network servers for massive multi player games.

    just a thought..


  2. #2 by Alan Crowley on December 21, 2006 - 10:58 am

    I’d have to agree with you both – the world is becoming smaller but larger also !

    Smaller in regards the EC2 and S3 as mentioned by John – check out Sun’s blackbox project also…

    And as the world becomes smaller, we’re gonna need more space – cyberspace , that is…

    With games like Warcraft and Second Life that are getting millions of people hooked into cyberspace to live-out virtual world scenarios, we’re gonna need alotta memory to handle this much gaming !

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