Stability and Change
Stability begets change. That may seem like a contradiction, especially when you're talking about the personal computer—an ever-evolving creature. But when you think about the underlying platform, you suddenly realize how stable it's been for years. The ATX motherboard and power supply have undergone relatively few changes since their introduction in 1995. Sure, we've seen the addition of ATX12V versions that add different power connectors, but the basic platform has remained remarkably unchanged.
This has either enabled or forced motherboard makers to be more creative and innovative with products that would otherwise be pretty mundane. To be sure, some companies, such as Shuttle and VIA, have taken risks in promoting new form factors. New ground was forged along the way, but the basic ATX motherboard still performs its yeomanlike service in the majority of today's homebrew PCs.
That will likely change in 2005, as Intel pushes forward with its BTX platform, and other companies experiment further with new form factors. Even the area of CPU cooling has undergone radical shifts. As CPUs have become hotter, technologies previously relegated to the overclocking set have become mainstream.
In our earlier State of the Industry article on chipsets and CPUs, we discussed the product changes and industry shifts that happened during the past year. Now we'll dust off the crystal ball, swirl the tea leaves, and study the phases of the moon to see what the upcoming year will bring. As Yoda might say, "Always cloudy, the future is." Continued...