The changes, said Joe D'Elia of market-research firm iSuppli Corp., will be driven by hardware form factor and interface improvements. "The year 2004 will bring tumultuous transformation to the market that will forever alter the nature and appearance of PCs," said D'Elia. "PC and motherboard makers [will] flood the market with a host of new products in 2004."
D'Elia, who is iSuppli's PC market director, said the changes will bring smaller, more robust desktops, offering major benefits to enterprise users because the result will be a smaller footprint on the desktop. Combined with flat-panel screens, the new PCs will leave desks with more space.
A series of developments are combining to bring about the changes, with most of them centered on the new Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) interface, said D'Elia. The BTX interface specification provides a flexible standards-based form factor foundation that supports the implementation of new desktop technologies, including PCI Express and Serial ATA.
In addition, a move away from the PCI and AGP buses to the single PCI Express bus will come into play, as PC interfaces among processors, memory, and drives will work more efficiently together. With its 66-MHz speed, the PCI bus performed well when PC processors were in the 100- to 200-MHz range.