We have evolved a lot technologically since the advent of ‘personal computers’. We now have a lot of new types of gadgets which are meant to perform nearly similar functions as we did about a decade ago. The age of tablets, smartphones and netbooks has finally arrived. Back when Google was just an infant we were still struggling to get online(not everyone had a ‘network’ or even a PC at that time). Now we have around 2-5 gadgets lying around which are capable of connecting to the web in an average home. We are also stepping into the clouds which virtually take care of all our data(they will, eventually). Google’s Chromebook is a perfect example and soon Apple’s iCloud service may join in too.
The centralised databanks will manage, store and provide us with our personal data anywhere we want to access them. Privacy and safety are two of the greatest concerns regarding such a service but so is reliability. It may not be that critical for private customers but it will be for businesses and administrators both in and out of the Government. There will obviously be questions raised if Google offers one day to store and manage every single user’s data. There was an uproar over the ‘Big Brother’ feeling which people felt due to Google’s all-encompassing services. Some were even worried due to Facebook’s policies for securing personal data. Data is sensitive as it is made. Every single person has the right to secure and manage his own data. But managing media which are bought from retailers like music, movies and games is not that big a deal. That data is common and it would obviously be more feasible if the music is streamed to several owners of its license from a single source. That way it will not eat up the space of every single owner.
While the problem with data may be solved by some other personalised cloud solutions, the problem of processing still remains. We have several types of devices ranging from smartphones to gaming consoles. We can now stream the same content on many of these devices. While the devices keep getting smaller, lighter, thinner and better, there will surely come a time when the processing power cannot be increased like it is being done now. Even though it seems far-fetched but it may happen, economically if not physically. Gradually our content may become more and more complex which will need more processing but rather than letting the device do that a central device can be used which is dedicated to all the processing. This is currently used in server-side scripting in web services. But in the future this might also help in processing multimedia and other contents. The workstation will be the brain that processes every task needed to be done on any device.
As an example let us assume we are playing a game on our console plugged into a TV and you are using a device as the controller which is also a mobile phone or a PMP or even a tablet. Now suppose you want to watch a movie or surf the internet, you may use the TV or the console to connect and get online. But since you are not using your PC or your set-top box you don’t have your bookmarks or the movies that you bought from a content provider. That is the consequence of using separate devices for basically the same functions that we do. All the devices don’t have the same processor. Hence all the devices cannot do the same task the same way or at the same speed. Such a situation can be solved by using a centralised workstation that can process the content for myriads of devices being used. In this situation the workstation would be the processor for the game, the processing device for the cable service, the usual PC for surfing the web and a content-streamer for the handheld. It will unify and standardise computing. This concept will not only save the processing time of all the smaller devices, but it will also extend them. Its power will determine the standard for every device connected to it. Moreover it will also reduce the wastage of energy used by the processors of all these individual devices. Even with the same processor it can be modified to stream the same content into several devices native to their own software. The OS of every device can be different or the same if so required. Like, for example we could have all the devices running Windows 8 or the workstation running Windows 8 while it streams content of iOS 5 to the iPod or iPad and content to the Android-based set-top box at the same time. The only condition here is that we require a really powerful processor and good connectivity at all times.
But it does have some drawbacks. What happens when the workstation is down? What happens when there is a newer device on the market? How can so much data be streamed to a number of devices at the same time? Which processor today has the capability of processing all that content simultaneously? These are definitely some necessary questions and we will get the answers once the corporations get their ‘heads’ together to implement it. This is just a concept that may or may not materialise in the future. But there might be a finite probability of this happening.