We at Altamente have been really enjoying the heated competition between AMD and Intel. First we got 64 bit computing which expanded memory limits to the unimaginable, then as if that was not enough, we got dual cores - and then quad cores. Where will the madness stop?
These things may not make much difference to the home user or gamer. Single user multi-threaded applications are just not that trivial to write. Most applications have not yet taken full advantage of multi-core or even 64 bit computing.
The enterprise is where it gets interesting though. Because we use Linux in our data center, and the machines are all multi-user, we get a huge boost in performance without a corresponding jump in price. Most sysadmins (okay, all of them) have been dreaming of the day when they could get their hands on commodity multi-processor systems. Give them memory addressing above 4 gigabytes at an economical price point, and you have just experienced the dream of all sysadmins since the dot com boom of the late 90's.
Just three years ago, Altamente would have been on the blade center bandwagon. We would have recommended a blade center from IBM or HP for price to performance ratio and up-gradability. It made sense. Get the blade center chassis, and upgrade it with components as you needed them. They were relatively cheap and powerful. Computing density was excellent, and they made efficient use of power.
But now? It's not even a race any more, not when you can get a economical quad-core processor in a 1-U chassis. Storage density is off the charts as well. With the falling prices of hard drives and the ease and reliability of RAID, you can easily cram 1 terabyte of online RAID-1 (2x1000 gigabytes) or an excess of 1 terabyte in RAID-5 storage (3x750 gigabytes) - all with a quad core 64 bit CPU, in a 1-U chassis, with lettuce and pickles on a sesame seed bun. If you know engineers, you can be sure they are smiling.
And you can do it economically. How much? Less than $3,500 with Altamente's software installed and unlimited seat licenses.