The top hardware stories of 2009

Supercomputers, cutting-edge datacentres, Apple tablets and more...
Written by Tim Ferguson, Contributor on

Supercomputers, cutting-edge datacentres, Apple tablets and more...

The hardware sector continued to be a rich source of stories in 2009 with cutting-edge datacentres, speedy supercomputers and dainty mini-laptops all making headlines this year.

There seemed to be a new netbook launched every day in 2009 so silicon.com sub editor Bethan Jones took it upon herself to test whether she could use one as her everyday work machine. The results made interesting reading.

Nokia Booklet 3G

Nokia entered the netbook fray in 2009 with its Booklet 3G
(Photo credit: Nokia)

Meanwhile the National Museum of Computing took a look at the ancestors of the netbook with the opening of the PC Gallery at Bletchley Park.

The gallery shows off around 50 personal computers that helped define the PC as we know it today and demonstrates how the UK played a key role in making computers cheap and user friendly. silicon.com senior reporter Nick Heath went along to take a look.

Another story dominating 2009 was that of a product that no one's actually certain exists yet: the Apple tablet. silicon.com's Apple guru, Seb Janacek, investigated the trail of the mythical device, pronouncing himself unconvinced of the tablet's arrival.

One device that Apple did reveal this year was an updated version of the iPhone - the 3G S - which featured a faster processor, longer battery life and video recording.

And sticking with the iPhone, 2009 also saw the end of O2's exclusive deal to sell the device in the UK. The device became available on Orange and more recently, Tesco Mobile while Vodafone will start selling it early next year.

While the iPhone may be popular in the consumer world, the business community remains more resistant to Apple's charms. In a silicon.com exclusive, CIOs revealed why the enterprise is still reluctant to adopt Macs.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, it's the cost of replacing what they already have that's proving the real barrier to enterprise uptake, according to the IT chiefs.

From desktops to hardware that powers the back office, as silicon.com got behind-the-scenes access to some pretty cutting-edge server rooms in 2009.

First one of the world's most efficient datacentres: the Ecofris datacentre in Weybridge, Surrey which uses air separation and recirculation to keep its power consumption low.

Later in the year, silicon.com took a photographic tour of one of Microsoft's latest datacentres in Chicago, which can hold up to 56 containers containing between 1,800 and 2,500 servers each. And that's just on the ground floor.

2009 also saw a new name top the list of the most powerful supercomputers. The Cray XT5 or Jaguar is located at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and can reach a maximum performance speed of 1.75 petaflops per second using AMD processors.

IBM's Roadrunner remained in second place with a still impressive speed of 1.04 petaflops per second.

Elsewhere, Intel found 2009 to be an expensive year. The company settled all its legal disputes with rival processor giant AMD with a five-year cross licensing deal, in an agreement that cost Intel $1.25bn.

Intel also had to shell out for a fine of more than €1bn from the European Commission for violating antitrust legislation.

silicon.com hardware stories of 2009

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