Thinking Outside the Box - Part 1 of 3
Making Single Board Computers Work for You
in Any Workflow
Maybe you’re like me. One of the old-school computer tinkerers that started on 8-bit machines back around 1980 when home computers were just hitting the scene. A time when software was so scarce that you probably learned at least some rudimentary programming concepts so you could make your own software.
Maybe you’re not that old, or got into the game later. In any case, you may be carrying the same mindset.
The Common Computing Device Mindset
If you’ve been in computers for any length of time, you may have a mindset that a computer is an expensive and complex investment. This mindset leads to thinking in terms of specifications of and modifications to that single computer to make it meet a set of needs or wants.
For instance, a tower computer may have a beefed up graphics card to play the newest games. But because it is also contains a lot of important data, it has a second hard drive added into it for redundancy. And as it may also be used for graphic design, 3D modeling and video production, the memory has also been doubled or quadrupled over what would commonly be found in a computer of that nature, and a second screen has been added to it.
If you run a business and it has one or more servers, it/they may have been a large investment costing many thousands of dollars. And because downtime would have a serious negative impact on productivity, the server(s) may have multiple drives in a RAID5 or similar configuration, multiple redundant power supplies, ECC memory, multiple processors, multiple network cards, and so forth. The OS may also be running multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) to “sandbox” server functionality and allow for easier backups.
The Outside-the-Box Mindset for SBCs
When carrying the above mindset into the world of SBCs, artificial mental barriers may be present in our minds that are an obstacle to the most effective use of SBC technology.
While certain aspects of computing are not a good fit for SBCs, other aspects of computing are. We may be missing a rewarding and reliable mix of computing technologies that can also diversify our digital setup.
Computing Tasks (Poor Fitness for Many SBCs)
- Graphically intensive video gaming
- Video production
- 3D Modeling
- Simulation software
- “Heavy” applications like business accounting software
- Memory- and processor-hungry applications (browsing complex websites with multiple open tabs, etc.)
For the user who does any of the above, they certainly have already invested in a machine capable of handling those tasks. And because the machine is capable of handling those “heavy” tasks, the user may conclude that the system is also great for handling the lighter-weight tasks.
While this may be true, it may not be the most efficient use of computing resources available at a low cost.