Yesterday CNET unveiled the first pictures of the servers that power Google. As expected, the machines are brutally simple. But—in typical fashion for an article about Google—the story proceeds to heap adulation on their “significant,” “innovative,” and “once-secret” approach of placing the backup power battery inside the server. Google cares about energy, it says. Google has patents on this technology.
Well, Google my ass. The IBM AS/400 server, for example, shipped with in-server battery backup as standard equipment in 1988. According to a 2001 article in the IBM Journal of Research and Development , IBM designers came to the same conclusions as Google over twenty years ago, although they were probably motivated more by reliability-per-dollar than the price of electricity.
They way people write about Google today reminds me of the way people wrote about the Media Lab in the 1990’s.