Chapter 13. Client Hardware

The client hardware for the Web is mostly standard PC hardware these days. Although there are a significant number of Macintoshes, cell phones, and PDA’s, such as the Palm Pilot used for web browsing, the PC is by far the most commonly used hardware platform.

In this chapter, I will concentrate on the components of PC client hardware, because the components differentiate the packages. There is still a great deal of standardization and interchangeability of components at this level, resulting in healthy competition and many price versus performance options.

CPU

The most important thing to remember about web client CPUs is that they’re not very important. Web surfing is an I/O-bound activity, not a CPU-bound activity. In any case, PC hardware is almost always overendowed with CPU relative to bus. That is, an extremely fast CPU will probably spend most of its time waiting for the bus to catch up with it. Nonetheless, the CPU frequency and model is what sells the machine, so manufacturers are forced to supply the latest and fastest CPU even if the previous generation of CPU would do just fine for most people. Web access speed is influenced much more by disk and network I/O than by CPU or even bus speed.

That said, there are some reasons to have a good CPU on your web browsing machine. For one thing, HTML and image rendering does take some CPU power. If you use a performance monitor and watch your CPU load while parsing a large HTML page, you’ll see that ...

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