What it is: The most powerful supercomputer in the world is powered by ARM processors.
Watch the supercomputer world to see the future. At one time, supercomputers were massively expensive machines that were far more powerful than anything consumers could buy.
That gradually changed over the years until today’s commercial computers equal the power and speed of previous supercomputers. Now today’s supercomputers are just a few generations ahead of today’s most powerful professional computers.
By tracking the supercomputer market, you can see where the future is heading. At one time, supercomputers ran on a variety of operating systems including Windows, Solaris, and UNIX. Nowadays, nearly all supercomputers run a variation of Linux with very few supercomputers using other operating systems.
The reason for Linux’s popularity is that it’s free and open source so it’s easy to customize. That’s the future of operating systems. Nobody wants to buy an operating system any more, but people did have a choice to buy an operating system in the early days of PCs.
There is no market for selling operating systems any more. Windows still exists solely because at one time it was the best operating system around but not any more. You can see how Microsoft stumbled when they tried to license their Windows Phone operating system and smartphone manufacturers simply chose the free and open source Android operating system instead.
Now that the fastest supercomputer in the world runs on ARM processors, it’s only a matter of time before ARM processors start dominating the supercomputer market. That’s because ARM processors use far less power than competing processors such as Intel processors.
If supercomputers can be more powerful and more energy efficient using ARM processors, then ordinary computers will start shifting to ARM processors as well. After all, why choose a slower, less energy efficient Intel processor when you can use a faster, more energy efficient ARM processor?
ARM processors are the future of computing. ARM processors have already taken over the mobile and wearable computing market and with Apple’s shift to their own ARM processor design (dubbed Apple Silicon) for the Macintosh, the desktop/laptop computer market will have to shift to ARM processors as well.
Linux won’t have a problem making the shift to ARM processors and Apple has already shifted macOS to ARM processors as well. The real loser will be Windows.
The greatest strength of Windows is its backwards compatibility with programs that corporations rely on. However, this backwards compatibility comes at the price of holding back progress. Eventually there will come a time when backwards compatibility will no longer be important. When that time comes (and it’s coming soon), Windows will need to shift to ARM processors, but by then it will be too late.
Windows will likely fade with Intel processors, given that both have been linked together for so long they’ve been dubbed Wintel. Although Microsoft has ported Windows to ARM processors, Windows on ARM can’t offer seamless backwards compatibility. That means Windows on ARM can’t embrace the full features of ARM and also can’t entice people to switch from Intel to ARM processors.
The future is clear just by looking at supercomputers. Free and open source operating systems are the future along with energy efficient, more powerful ARM processors.