Passenger Train vs. Freight Train (x86 v. mainframes)
They are brutally expensive because mainframes have *not* decreased in price as rapidly as garden-variety x86 (Moore's Law doesn't apply to mainframes). Mainframes are also not really under that much price pressure, either - mainframes are all about Very Large Transactional Volumes. Speed is not the issue with a mainframe - it's about Very Large Bites Of Bytes. It's a passenger train vs. a freight train: the mainframe is the freight train still. You *can* use a passenger train to haul freight; however, as the volume of freight goes up, it becomes less and less efficient to do so.
Originally Posted by kebabbert
Take the typical transactional volume of IBM's largest mainframe - what would be required in terms of an x86 cluster to merely keep up with that amount of absolute transactional volume (not surpass it, but just to keep up)? Yes; mainframes are slow. So are freight trains. But would you use Acela Express service to move elephants to Newark? Or donkeys to New York? Or would you use a freight train (Norfolk Southern or CSX) instead?
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