Beyond advanced computing technology, what exactly is “frontier computing”? You may have heard the term, but as devices get smarter and smaller and wireless connections get faster, edge computing is likely to become increasingly important.
This article will define edge computing, its similarities and differences to cloud computing, and who uses the technology and how.
What is Frontier Computing?
Essentially, computing can be done on a device, such as a calculator, or over the Internet, like most of what you do on your phone or computer.
Advanced computing Is an extension of What technology?
Computing that is done off-device, over the Internet, is usually facilitated by more familiar cloud computing.
Cloud computing is performed by a network of connected servers in a data center. You access this network through an Internet-connected device, which itself is not involved in the computing task.
Definition of Edge Computing
Frontier computing is essentially a form of cloud computing in which computation is distributed across devices rather than in one place, on a so-called “origin server.” In fact, edge computing recreates a cloud system by using “edge servers” or “microservers” instead of source servers.
While edge computing for the end user works very similar to conventional cloud computing, edge devices share the computing task with the servers.
Why is Edge Computing So Important?
Peripheral computing plays an important role in today’s devices and next-generation devices because it is more reliable and secure than cloud computing. It’s also more powerful and versatile than computing strictly on-device.
Advanced Computing Enables Smaller and Faster Devices
Most users have developed a craving for both smaller and more powerful devices. Because cloud computing involves networks of computers, it will always be more powerful than any device most people can reasonably own.
Cloud computing solves the device size problem. However, we also want computing to be fast.
When you use cloud computing for word processing, it can seem instantaneous. In fact, transferring data from a device to the cloud and back does take time, but text processing helps that it requires little data.
When performing data-intensive cloud computing tasks, such as streaming games or watching multimedia, you’re more likely to notice a drop in performance. You’ll notice that performance will drop even more if the cloud service is currently in high demand.
Most peripherals distribute the computing load. Items that change infrequently or very quickly are processed on the device. Items that change quickly and require more processing power are processed in the cloud.
Thus, some of the processing costs are borne by the device, rather than everything that happens in the cloud. Fewer data requirements in the cloud mean faster processing with the same Internet connection.
In addition, with cloud computing, a service provider can use more small data centers. It used to be that there were only a few large data centers across the country, and users located farther away from one of those centers had a lower quality of service. With more small data centers, everyone can get better service.
Advanced Computing Increases Security
Any data processed on a device doesn’t need to be sent to the cloud. Any data that doesn’t need to be sent to the cloud is protected from potential data thieves.
That the cloud itself is insecure is a common myth about cloud computing. However, any connection to the Internet is a potential opportunity for hackers. Just as bank robbers of the old Wild West might have attacked a bus rather than a bank, whether the cloud itself is secure or not, it is not necessarily a problem if hackers can get the data while it is moving from the device to the cloud. It’s still part of advanced computing.
Edge computing allows you to distribute data between the device and the cloud to speed things up. But edge devices also allow data processing to be distributed between the device and the cloud so that sensitive information never leaves the device.
In addition, with edge computing, outages are less likely for users because microservers or edge servers can be maintained or damaged without affecting everyone on the network. And because edge computing uses more distributed data centers, it’s easier for service providers to distribute maintenance and get personnel on site faster.
Does edge computing have disadvantages?
Edge computing has its drawbacks. Some of those disadvantages stem from the fact that edge computing also uses the cloud. For example, edge devices still need an Internet connection for maximum utility. However, advanced computing technology also poses some problems of its own.
Right now, peripherals require fairly specialized hardware. As a result, most peripherals can only really apply peripheral computing to one thing. They’re not necessarily disposable, but they’re also not as versatile as strictly cloud-based devices.
Who Uses Edge Computing?
A smart home with different functions in green bubbles
Right now, the options for using edge computing are pretty limited. The technology is only used by companies that have good reasons not to rely strictly on onboarding or cloud computing.
Cellnex Telecom is a wireless carrier serving much of Europe. Using advanced cloud computing that spreads computing across multiple locations rather than relying on a data center, the company offers better and more reliable services in its vast market and dispersed user base.
Percept creates chips for peripheral devices, primarily for smart home security devices. These chips allow devices to recognize images, video and audio while limiting the amount of potentially sensitive data they must send to the cloud. Similarly, companies such as Microsoft are using edge computing in Internet of Things devices that are less reliant on cloud computing.
AT&T promises that advanced technology will make cloud gaming faster and more accessible in the future. Games require more data to stream than other forms of multimedia because games require reactions to user input. Some command processing or graphics rendering distribution can reduce connectivity requirements and latency.
Are you living on the edge?
Depending on how you use connected devices, you may already be using advanced computing solutions at work or at home. Smart home devices are likely to be something most people will encounter for the first time for some time.
However, as advanced computing makes devices smaller, faster and more powerful, applications of this technology are only likely to become more common.