The market for x86 is dead

On January 14, 2011, in news, by

InformationWeek Mobile Edition – Blogs >> – Is The SMB Server Market A Bubble?:

Some say the sky is going to fall in 2011. But what’s been holding it up?

A recent tech item in quotes an analyst who thinks that, after experiencing 30 percent revenue growth last year, the market for x86 servers (which is what SMBs usually get) will see its growth rate slump to 5 percent in 2011. The rebound from the 2009 slump is over. The result will be a painful pileup among vendors and suppliers as their markets dry up.

Actually, during all this growth I have been pointing out that the combination of cloud services and virtualization means that most SMBs don’t need to buy servers at all. If they already have servers they can use virtualization to avoid needing more, and if they don’t have servers they can use the cloud to avoid ever needing any.

But by the way I’ve been ignored I assume that chances are good that Forbes will also be ignored and that x86 servers will keep charging ahead. Apparently, desktops are seen as tools for generic tasks like word processing and accounting. But the servers are used for whatever thing it is that sets the SMBs apart and creates their place in the market. The processes going on inside the servers are their factory, in other words. The users want total control over those processes, and don’t want to bother with the complications of virtualization, especially when hardware is cheap. The cloud is another complication, although they may use it to augment the servers (and for bulk file transfers.)

At least that’s the vibe I get. So while the sky ought to be falling, it isn’t. It would not be the first time that the pundits were wrong.

Or I could be wrong, and turn out to be right.

I should hope that the market for x86 servers will dry up.  You should be deploying x64 servers — Vail, Aurora, SBS 2011 standard are all 64bit.  Consider server consolidation as well and stand up a virtualization platform.

Bottom line, I am not even deploying x86 workstations anymore…what about you?


3 Responses to The market for x86 is dead

  1. Joe Raby says:

    32-bit server days are gone, and Intel and ARM are trying to keep 32-bit client days going. AMD has been entirely 64-bit (and 100% virtualization ready with AMD-V being offered on all of their chips) for a few years now. If Intel keeps releasing 32-bit Atom processors, I’m going to scream. I really hope that Microsoft only makes a 64-bit Windows 8 for x86 architecture to cut off Intel. ARM licensees would be smart to sway towards 64-bit processors too, although I’m not holding my breath on that.

    Just FYI: Kingston had an article a while back about Windows performance. Upgrading a system from a 32-bit version of Windows 7 with 2GB of RAM to 64-bit & 4GB would give an average increase in performance of an additional 40% across the board. DDR3 RAM is way down in price now too, so if you have memory-hungry programs, increasing your RAM is a cheap way to give you a speed boost.

  2. Another point to consider is how Intel stratifies its market by features. Funny how in bankruptcy GM worked to shed brands (Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer, Oldsmobile a few years back) to tighten up its offering. With the power saving features of vPro and the new ‘out of band’ monitoring capability of the i5 and i7 processors, Intel could make all of the new (from this point in time onward) desktop computers really something different and have a compelling reason to upgrade.

    If upgrading just means more of the same, then I think Intel is shooting themselves in the foot. Remember, that a purchase of a new computer in 2011 means using that box until at least 2015. The pundits are predicting that by 2015 we will all be using thin clients and tablets (like iPad and Android) along with cloud-based everything. Who will even need a desktop by then?

  3. Richard says:

    When someone like Information Week talks about x86, they mean “Anything you can run a 32-bit i386 process on” – ie including x64 as well.

    That is, it’s x86 as opposed to ARM or IA64 (Itanium) or Sparc or POWER, not x86 as opposed to x64.