I hate to say it, but that's just not true anymore. The best price per performance available today is on x86 platforms. While some architectures like SPARC will scale linearly in SMP configurations as processors are added (and x86 really doesn't), x86 is often still very much in the lead in terms of performance, especially if cost is a factor too.
Every x86 CPU since the first-generation Pentium and K5 processors has a RISC core with a CISC-to-RISC layer on it, so all the benefits of RISC CPUs are available to them.
While the Intel P4 is not nessicarily the most efficient processor (one may argue that it has been designed for marketing purposes and high clock speeeds instead of efficient technology), products from AMD show what x86 is capable of.
Most companies I am aware of (including the one I work for) have Linux/x86 initiatives to replace old Sun/Solaris, IBM/AIX, and HP/HPUX platforms--simply because the performance per dollar is so much better.
The day of Sun and similar platforms is likely long gone. I used to think that was bad, but now I really don't care so much.
As for Macs, their technology is doing a better job of keeping up--probably mostly because of their development work with IBM on the G5. However, what you will find is that the benchmarks are split about in half in favor of each. So are you really ahead? I'd say no. Don't get me wrong, I like Macs and they totally have their place. I just wouldn't say that place is in high performance computing any more than the next randomly selected computer and platform.
I'll tell you one thing: while this isn't really a debate in the server world, x86 compute clusters using inexpensive nodes based on x86 platforms are becoming more common than servers like the Sun V880 and its even more powerful friends. They cost less, provide higher availabiltiy, and perform--if nothing else--about the same.
many still hold their own in the graphics and processing dept. against today's PC's and will operate much more gracefully under heavy loads than an x86.
Well, I can't really speak to that since I don't have much experience with SGI platforms. I can speak to Sun platforms, of which I have a plethora of experience. I will say that if what you are saying is true, then the SGI box would've costed so much more than the Intel box in your example that it's not even worth comparing it.
As for Sun, we've done some Geological and Geophysical benchmarks at work (as it is an Oil company), and found that a $25,000 Sun workstation was outperformed by a factor of 5 times by a HP Xeon-based workstation costing $5,000. In business terms, that's 25 times ahead. So, the G&G market at minimum, what chance does Sun really have? And considering how SGI is doing as a company, I'd say they don't have much of a chance anymore either.
But this is all high performance computing stuff, and it doesn't really apply to the home world, so some of it may be moot.
[This message has been edited by jdadamo (edited 01-13-2005).]