When computer architectures change in the datacenter, the attack always comes from the bottom. And after more than a decade of sustained struggle, Arm Ltd and its platoons of licensees have finally stormed the glass house – well, more of a data warehouse (literally) than a cathedral with windows to show off technological prowess as early mainframe datacenters were – and are firmly encamped on the no longer tiled, but concrete, floors.
For modern corporate computing, Day One of the Big Data Bang comes in April 1964 with the launch of the System/360 mainframe. Yes, people were farting around with punch cards and tabulating machines for 75 years and had electro-mechanical computation, and even true electronic computation, before then. But the System/360 showed us all what a computer architecture with hardware and software co-design, with breadth and depth and binary compatibility across a wide range of distinct processors, really looks like. And by and large, excepting a change in character formatting from EBCDIC to ASCII, a modern computer (including the smartphone in your hand) conceptually looks like a System/360 designed by Gene Amdahl that had a love child with a Cray-1 designed by Seymour Cray.