Enterprise Power

What happens in the data center may have the biggest bang for the buck—and the most bucks.


The corporate data center is getting a lot of attention these days. ARM is fighting for a place inside server racks. Cadence has rolled out IP for faster storage standards. And Mentor Graphics has just introduced middleware for embedded Linux.

Why? Because unlike the mobile space, where you need billions of units to make margins, in the corporate enterprise you only need millions. Those extra zeroes can mean a lot for IP and tools sales, as well as processor core margins.

Even better, in the mobile world it’s the OEMs that usually determine the price and what technology gets sold. In the enterprise, the customers have a much stronger hand in what they buy—and a lot more negotiating power.

That doesn’t mean change comes quickly in the corporate enterprise. If there are big savings to be had, then corporations will do the necessary number crunching and determine what changes are worth the risk and new investment. Enterprise computing remains one of the most conservative bastions of technology on the planet because so much is riding on consistency and uptime. But once changes are approved, fully tested and rolled out, they tend to provide a steady stream of revenue for years—and sometimes even decades.

The obvious improvements in server utilization through virtualization have already been implemented. Private clouds are also being installed inside of companies to centralize computing and make it more efficient, as well as more secure. The next step is to improve the efficiency even further, either with more efficient processors or more efficient storage, such as solid-state drives. And wherever possible, companies will improve their software, leveraging open source whenever they don’t need a proprietary application and a specific operating system.

The movement by EDA and IP vendors into this space isn’t just a fluke, and it will likely ramp up over the next couple years as the trend toward efficiency continues to pay measurable dividends for large corporations. But it remains to be seen just how large of a dent these companies can make in a market that was considered almost impregnable market fortress just several years ago. If they are successful, these and other companies could find a huge new opportunity for their expertise in design, low-power engineering and the power-performance-area equation. If not, we will likely see this effort quietly slip into the background without much notice.

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