A lot of industry hype has been made about the market for microservers as we close out 2012.
While the prospect of the ARM architecture making it into the data center is tremendous fodder for the tech press, the majority of the coverage seems to be viewing the topic through rose-tinted glasses.
The hype machine has been amply fed with a constant stream of bold pie-in-the-sky predictions from ARM CEO Warren East, Simon Segars and other ARM executives on how much market share the firm will inevitably take from Intel.
It’s interesting that a company which doesn’t yet make a product is feeding this hype cycle more than the customers who are actually tasked with bringing those products to market. Indeed, we’ve not heard much on this front lately from any of the ARM licensees to validate such grand aspirations, perhaps because they are the ones who live in the world of product reality.
Taking a broader view of the segment, there is very little competition for Intel today. AMD continues its painful death spiral, and no other companies seem to have the capability of shipping products into the data center with scale.
Nvidia is a peripheral bit player in HPC and has had some success but not enough to lessen its dependency on consumer and workstation discrete graphics for the foreseeable future.
Now to be clear, I think competition in the data center is a good thing and sorely needed. Customers need it, and companies like Intel need it to make better products. But let’s face it, Microservers is not even that big of a market anyway, with only a handful of important customers like Facebook, Google and Amazon.
If and when the ARM architecture makes it into the data center it has the prospect to offer this competition, but a lot of things need to happen and a number of questions need to be answered first.
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