In The Beginning... The 80's
The x86 Personal Computer (PC) has played a major role in the computing world. The original IBM PC provided one of the first common, relatively open platforms for businesses and home users in the early 1980s. Since then the PC has evolved with more powerful CPUs, video cards, and storage devices. Despite yearly predictions of the PC’s demise, the PC platform continues to provide a no-compromise, high-performance, expandable and upgradable computer solution at a reasonable cost to designers, businesses, programmers, and of course gamers and enthusiasts.
In the next few years, new technologies will converge to fundamentally change the architecture, performance, and physical layout of the PC. While the upcoming technologies will affect phones, tablets, MACs, and laptops, the architecture, physical layout and software changes will affect next generation PCs the most. x86-based laptops will also undergo architectural and software changes, but the form factor has been optimized over the past few decades to the point where it’s difficult to tell one generation apart from another.
The upcoming technologies that will be responsible for the remake of the PC are Intel’s 14 nm (and beyond) semiconductor process technology, and memristor technology (Hewlett Packard and others). Intel’s 14nm technology will provide CPU/GPU technology that will outperform anything currently on the market, and memristor technology will bring about disruptive changes to storage technology. Together, the impact of these technologies will not only reshape the PC, but will have far-reaching consequences on supply chains, support chip and motherboard vendors, software suppliers, and even the retail sector. Each segment is explored on this website, starting with the technology changes.
As CPUs become increasingly integrated and non-volatile storage makes radical shifts to new technology, the large tower case that has been the standard for decades will become smaller and more streamlined. And underneath the hardware changes, operating systems and applications will become much more robust and efficient. This website looks at the likely outcomes of the upcoming technology: whether these changes actually occur depends on the consortiums, organizations, and major players that comprise the PC industry.
It’s important to note that these new technologies will not be available until 2014-2015. Two to three years is a long time to wait, and you should not wait if you currently need to upgrade your PC or buy a new one. The current-generation processors offered by Intel and AMD processors are VERY fast, and a correctly configured system will provide two or more years of productive service. Memristor technology is still in development. Once devices are available, it may take a few iterations to work out all issues with controllers and firmware, as was the case with SSDs. In addition, it’s always a good idea to backup your data externally in case a motherboard or power malfunction supply destroys the internal storage devices. An external RAID box with quality hard drives will be a good choice for backing up a system for many more years.