13 October 2011

Small devices and big data centers

There are several trends in computer that are currently happening. Network speeds are getting faster. Devices are getting smaller, yet more capable. This is largely possible due to the large data centers that support these devices. Instead of doing the computing on the local device, most computing is now done remotely in large data centers, which is why even though your mobile device may not have a very powerful CPU, it can still do many things.

The Kindle Fire from Amazon is an example of this trend. The browser on this new device offloads any computationally intensive work to the large data centers owned by Amazon, while the device only does the displaying.

When developing software nowadays, we can take advantage of this trend by looking for ways in which some work can be offloaded remotely instead of computing everything locally.


Would there be more privacy concerns if a greater amount of central computer processing was applied?
Currently, not a lot of central data centers will respect your privacy, since it's in their best interests to record any data they get and try to monetize it. However, if privacy is of utmost importance in some circumstances, there is a way to implement that.

Homomorphic encryption is an active area of research right now in mathematics. This allows useful computation to be applied to encrypted data, without knowing the plaintext data. Essentially, it allows servers to do useful work even if they don't really know what they're working on.
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