Stross on mini-PCs

Charlie Stross is musing about the future of computers, and he's making a lot of sense on the subject of little fanless dedicated-purpose PCs.
And the next thing: at a very specific level, mini-ITX motherboards and cases are The Way To Go. Tiny, cheap, fanless PCs with trailing-edge processors -- only 1GHz -- are nevertheless a really amazingly cool idea, especially when you start thinking in terms of turning them into personal video recorders (running things like FreeVo) or in-car GPS navigation systems. Or Beowulf clusters. Marketing hype has obsessed most punters with clock speed, so that the owner of a 2.4GHz processor sneers at their neighbour with the 2.1GHz clock -- but if both machines have the same bus frequency, memory, and disk architecture, all the extra CPU speed means is that the faster machine will spend more time in cache stalls. "Slower" computers (we're still talking faster than a Cray XMP here) that don't sound like an air conditioning system, that can run off a trickle of current and live in a case the size of a paperback book, and that are tailored to a specific task, are really useful.
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