Where is cloud computing headed?
Earlier this month, at the International CES, AMD and OTOY CEOs revealed their plans of unveiling by the end of this year a massively parallel supercomputer that would combine cutting edge hardware provided by AMD, and server side rendering technology. This would deliver next-generation games and other HD content to internet connected devices, be they handheld or desktop. In other words, massive data accessible on-the-spot, no matter where you connect from. Which means that even heavy RPG games could be played on web-enabled phones, and paused/restarted at any point in time, without draining the energy, memory usage, or hardware capacity of the device.
Too good to be true? Well, maybe. "Cloud-computing" (a buzz-word that caught momentum in the Web 2.0 era) is actually a metaphor depicting the Internet-centered development and use of computer technology. Which comprises... almost everything done on the Internet. It's quite funny to know that Dell even tried to trademark the definition in 2007, although the term has been in use since the early 90s.
It may be considered a natural process for computers to offshore most activities, turning them in simple terminals, but such a process will instead make the users bound to providers. Access to your own documents, data, accounts and everything else that is kept online, will be influenced by the storage provider's terms and conditions. Safety measures and liability issues will become complex webs that would need legal support, and legal measures for Web 2.0 are still being figured out. It sounds tricky but at least things are going in the right direction for now.
Companies or persons that use online programs like Google Apps, Zoho Office, or everything else under the label software as a service (SaaS), are in the cloud computing business. A single application browsed by millions of customers is the basic definition of SaaS, and so are online games, streaming websites and other media sites. As such, if content is streamed only from certain providers, then copyright issues might be finally overriden (to the enjoyment of big Hollywood companies). It's easy to figure out that those who will fervently support massive cloud-computing will be players with a direct interest into controlling access to their products. The question is whether customers will pay for the convenience of not having to personally own a powerful computer in order to play or view full HD games, movies or applications.
AMD's computer, tagged Render Fusion Cloud, is expected to break the one petaFlop barrier which will make it one of the fastest graphics computer built so far. Considering that 7 out of 10 of the world's supercomputers are provided by AMD, and that OTOY's software is powering this up, it's quite likely that HD cloud computing turns into reality by the end of this year.
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