Re: Pat Gelsinger
Actually, I think the article is pretty close to spot on in it's conjecture. Look at history: when Google announces it is looking at a particular technology it is because it is seeking to generate buzz, interest and - ultimately - a strong community following. These technologies are rarely truly "new", but they are unique twists on extant stuff that need a far broader base of people to get involved in order to make things really happen.
Here I am thinking of Android, Glass, Wave, Google +, many of the "in depth features" of Google Maps (such as Moon, building interiors, etc), Hangouts, Ventures, and Google TV.
When Google "just does it" then the technology in question is usually truly pioneering (GFS, Analytics, Google custom switches, Google AI load balancing and so forth.) These are core to their business operations and their competitive advantage and they don't like to share info until they are well on the way towards the next version.
To me, this says that Google has already made the decision to pursue ARM server processors and are in the first stages of a prolonged run up to the creation of an ecosystem. This is the hype phase. Next will come a lot of hint dropping and "idea mining." (Where they wait for the wider tech ecosystem to come up with great use cases and means of working together.)
After that will come a limited trial and prototyping phase (invite only, natch). This will be followed by "invite your friends" which will effectively be a free-for-all to anyone interested, but with enough legal CYA-this-is-still-a-beta to be get-out-of-jail-free, also "we can steal your ideas and not compensate you".
There will then be a bit of a lull as the community collapses inwards a bit, sheds the less interested and becomes more about a hard core of evangelists. Meanwhile, Google will be beavering away on internal stuff (probably on version 2 of implementation internally by this point) and readying a public release product. Google will quickly snap up the top 30% of the hard core of evangelists to staff the new consumer-facing department and launch the product.
They'll start slow, but subsidize heavily. The idea is to gain market share. The 70% of evangelists who weren't bought up will be cranking out applications like mad in the vain hope of getting hired at Google, driving a new explosion of interest and the foundations of a real ecosystem. The hardware will slowly creep up in price to just above 1.5x cost. It will stabilize here.
Google, meanwhile, will have had it's minions building an entire ecosystem delivery apparatus around the software layer and slowly start to "own" the ARM server market. Other competitors will have entered by this point, but they won't make a real volume dent.
By this point, we're 7-10 years out and Google will be on the 4th or 5th iteration of its hardware internally and will already have a sub-department filled with PhDs devoted to driving innovation in all areas of ARM server design that will give it a massive leg up on competitors. Those designs will find their way into the "consumer" product a few years later creating an ecosystem cycle much like the GFS/Hadoop one.
Overall, Google will have accomplished several goals:
1) reduced the cost of it's own infrastructure.
2) kickstart a "physicalisation" movement (likely complete with the ability to "vMotion" workloads on physical hardware the same way we can virtual ones. HA, Fault Tolerance, etc will all rear their heads.)
3) remove the "ownership" of the server market from Microsoft, Unix/Non-Google Linux and VMware.
4) made server applications something that can be - and increasingly will be - delivered through it's "Play" store (necessary for Google to retain control while allowing other manufacturers to bear the R&D burden of actually making the kit for punters.)
5) created a movement towards the TRUE integration of on premises server apps with cloud-based processing and application provisioning (only really possible if you create an ecosystem with zero legacy).
6) create an "enterprise" component to it's IT offering that suddenly makes ChromeOS and Android relevant in a way that they can't be today. (True app-store delivered integration of everything, backed by central Google Cloud processing, Google-based authentication, etc.)
Ultimately, it would lead to a completely new way of thinking about resource usage, data storage, identity, security and so forth because this new ecosystem simply wouldn't have the x86 legacy. It would start small, face fierce resistance and struggle for every inch of ground...but Google's gotten good at managing the human side of these sorts of things. They know how to create evangelists, create an ecosystem and offload the risk (and most of the heavy lifting) onto the community, swooping in only once the model has proven itself to cream the profits.
Worst case scenario, none of the above materializes, but Intel absolutely pisses itself in terror and starts busting a nut to prevent the ARMpocalypse. Google then gets cheaper servers and the ability to bully Intel for the next two decades.
Either way, Google wins.