How's A Server Different From A Pc? & How Are Watches Different From Socks?08/19/2013
What is the Internet? Essentially (in terms of the physical infrastructure fueling it), it's a bunch of servers that are connected together. When we type a URL into a PC, our "machine" is functioning as a client making a request to a server. The flow of information on the web, then, is basically a bunch of people directing computers to converse with each other and exchange data.
Other than their purpose, though, how do a typical home computer and a web server differ? We will explore this issue via a piece by Johan De Gelas for AnandTech that attempts to create a distinction between the two. We will also look at a For Dummies article that discusses the different components of a server, so we can have a little better sense of its ingredients.
In addition to exploring servers versus PCs, we will also be looking at the difference between watches and socks. To look briefly at watches and socks, watches are much better at telling time. It is possible to tell what day it is (though not the time) by wearing the same clothes for a few days and smelling your socks as a clue. However, that time-assessment technique requires a high level of olfactory skill and experience; it is also a socially inappropriate way to tell time, because removing socks to smell them at cocktail parties, yacht club charity galas, or bus station lines is considered rude.
How a Server & PC Are Different
Let's first take a quick look at Johan's ideas from AnandTech. First he talks about the similarities between servers and PCs. He notes that originally the difference in hardware between a desktop computer and a server was more extreme; in recent years, PCs sometimes pack enough power and high-grade components that they resemble servers.
The three primary differences listed by Johan are the following:
- Function: A server makes IT services available to a large number of users at once, whereas a PC is designed for one user.
- Mass Usage: Hardware is optimized for concurrent or simultaneous access by a large number of internal or external clients.
- Business Costs/Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): A server is not just a machine like a PC is. Rather, installation and maintenance factors into a server's costs by savvy enterprises assessing their equipment from every financial angle.
Essentially then, the server is viewed in a broader context from a business perspective regarding its financial impact. In terms of the expectations of its design and the goals of its hardware, there is more of a focus in the server on multi-user optimization.
We are learning a lot about servers and PCs, but let's not forget watches and socks. Socks are more comfortable on the feet, while watches work well on the wrists. Note that socks can also be worn on the hands, and you may be able to get a watch around your ankle. If you're going to wear socks on your hands, be sure to use ones with holes so you can stick your finger through to point at things and make obscene gestures. If you wear a watch around your ankle, initiate a yoga routine as well so that you can lift your ankle up towards your face when someone asks you for the time.
Now let's take a brief gander at a few of the main pieces of a server. Here they are below, drawing from the For Dummies roadmap. The article reminds us that servers contain the same basic technology as a client computer (PC) but are constructed with pricier and stronger materials and structures (and additionally are typically built into a much more redundant, a.k.a. reliant, system).
This piece is the control center of the server. It contains all the primary electronic circuits. Everything, in one way or another, hooks into this component. Within the motherboard – at bare minimum – are the central processing unit (CPU), memory (RAM), controller for the hard drive, a chipset (which contains additional circuits), various slots to connect to additional components, the hard drive controller, and ports for external devices (keyboards, etc.).
The processor allows the computer to think, essentially. As its name suggests, it processes all the data that is flowing back and forth through the server. The performance of the server is impacted heavily by the processor. In other words, for a website to populate quickly and effectively, your CPU must be strong.
Motherboards only fit specific processor types. Processors can be either socket or slot, but each of these formats has a variety of different styles that only fit certain motherboards.
Memory again is motherboard-specific. Note that the motherboard will determine what the maximum amount of memory is that the server can hold.
Before we go to our conclusion, let's check in again on the socks and watches differences. Here, though, is something that they both have in common: you always want to wear them in pairs. With socks, of course you want both of your feet to be warm and protected. With watches, when someone asks you the time, you want to be able to say, "You want local time or Greenwich Mean Time?" and have both options immediately accessible on right-wrist and left-wrist timepieces.
Those are some of the basic differences between servers and PCs. Basically they're both computers, and servers are just built with more power and accessibility in mind. You can check out the links above if you want to explore the topic a little further.
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By Kent Roberts