Wintel failed to spot mobile trend, says analyst

Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp.’s joint Wintel juggernaut failed to spot the emerging trend away from the desktop PC as the centre of the computing universe, according to John Dean, managing director of equity research, computer storage for Salomon Smith Barney Inc.

Had the two companies taken note of growth patterns in various sectors of the disk storage industry, they would not have been surprised by the rise of mobile devices communicating with big central servers, Dean said during a presentation Thursday at Diskcon Asia in Singapore.

“Microsoft and Intel took their eye off the ball,” he said. “It was left to Palm (Inc.) and (Research in Motion Ltd.’s) BlackBerry to realize that we have become a mobile society.”

According to Dean, research shows that growth in the desktop storage market has only been half that of the enterprise server storage market, as the new model gathers pace.

“Storage demand has gone to the centre, driven by mobile devices,” he said. “What we have now is decentralized input, but centralized storage.”

That is a trend that will continue as radical new architectures emerge in large storage systems, according to Dean.

Companies such as Scale Eight Inc., 3Ware Inc., and up to 10 others “operating in stealth mode” are creating massively parallel storage architectures based on serial ATA and IDE interfaces. Dean cited the case of one U.S. company that has built a server farm containing 1,000 CPUs and 2,000 disk sub-systems, which is capable of processing one billion records in three seconds.

The emerging serial ATA interface, which is replacing parallel ATA, can deliver data transfer rates of 1.5G bps (bits per second) and extensions are planned to lift that to 6G bps in future.

At the mobile end, disk drive manufacturers have a great opportunity to benefit from producing 2.5-inch (6.25-centimetre), 1.8-inch (4.5-centimetre) and 1-inch (2.5-centimetre) drives, if they are bold enough, according to Dean.

“The (disk drive) industry must lead the 2.5-inch market and not follow,” he said. “Vendors must get into it and expand and not let other people dictate the prices. The industry has good people and good technology, but it’s always following, not leading.”

More information about the conference can be found at