SAN DIEGO — Uplinq 2013 — Mobile developers might not care much about software defined networking (SDN), but they should. Changes to the datacenter will allow them to be much more creative with their applications, according to Marc Andreessen.
Andreessen, who spoke at Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s Uplinq conference this week, knows a thing or two about innovation, having co-authored the first web browser Mosiac in 1993, followed by a string of other successful companies. He is now a leading technology industry venture capitalist, whose investments include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Skype, and AirBnB.
So why does he think datacenter innovation can lead to app creativity? It's a chain reaction, as he described it: By separating the control logic from the physical infrastructure in the datacenter, costs come down; when costs come down on the backend, the cost of building apps falls as well. Ergo, developers can be more creative and build more sophisticated apps than otherwise possible. (See The Promise of SDN and NFV, SDN Help Save Data Center Power.)
"Even if you don’t care, it's exciting because the cost of the backend for a modern app is falling very fast," Andreessen said. "If you were going to build Google or Facebook or Twitter or anything like that, the cost of building it is falling quickly compared to what they had to field. When costs fall like that, the app developers can get a lot more creative."
Like Qualcomm, Andreessen is bullish about the opportunities that heterogeneous computing -- multiple cores working together -- brings. Everything is changing right now, he said, but especially in the datacenter. He predicts that the same processors that go into smartphones will be the processors that power servers in the future.
And, those might just be Qualcomm ARM chips as well. Speaking on a press panel Wednesday, Murthy Renduchintala, EVP of Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and co-president of Qualcomm Mobile, said that it wouldn't rule out making ARM chips for servers, which traditionally use x86 processors. Doing so could bring down the cost and power requirements of the chips. Again, developers are helped in a circuitous way.
"Servers are clearly an area of interest to us," he told reporters. "The technology is complementary with what we are doing in the smartphone space, which makes it an interesting option for us to consider."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading