Your Next Store Server
By David Dorf on Feb 28, 2009
Almost any retail store has at least one server running within its four walls. Larger stores often have servers configured for redundancy because the business has become so dependent on them. Store servers are used for POS, labor management, signage, reporting, etc. Of course being in this cramped, often dirty environment can be hazardous to a server's health. They are often relegated to a closet where there is little air flow, and I've seen situations where rats have eaten through network cables.
But in a retail store square footage is very valuable. So servers have been getting smaller, more energy efficient, and have a longer mean time between failures. With the advent of computer-on-a-chip technology, it won't be long before servers shrink to the size of power bricks. Wait a second... that day has arrived.
Introducing Marvell's Plug Computer (see picture). For $99, you get a 1200 MHz CPU with 1 GB of Flash and DRAM, ethernet, and USB connectivity using only 5 watts of electricity. It runs various distributions of Linux, and typically is always on. See TG Daily for a more complete review.
Ok, maybe its not powerful enough to actually run a store, but the industry is making fast progress in the right direction. Recall paying $5000 for that first PC that ran DOS? Now you can get a PC that's 1/25 the size, 1000x more powerful, and costs under $100. They are quickly closing in on a disposable status.