I didn't get the chance to go to the SC09 conference, but I am watching the news that's coming out of that event. One of the regular features at SC is the release of the TOP500 list of most powerful computers in the world. Check out the website (www.top500.org) for the most current list and all sorts of ways that you can summarize that data.
While massaging the data around to see how many machines use what kind of processor, one data point that stuck out for me was that Intel processors are in 402 of the 500. Obviously we're proud to be driving a large percentage of the highest performing platforms on the planet. One little thing that I found odd, though, was the raw numbers for IBM Power. Within the 52 Power-based machines, 1470752 cores are used. That is an average 28283 cores per platform. (The Intel average number of cores per platform is much smaller.)
The Performance Development charts are interesting, too. The historical data shows that my laptop would have been on the list in the mid-1990's. The Projected Performance Development chart predicts that we should be seeing exascale machines near the end of the next decade. (Estimates about the power needed to keep such a machine running have heightened the need and desire to find ways to lower the processor power requirements.)
What does it all mean? I don't know. There are so many ways you can spin all the gathered data that I better understand Mark Twain's remark from his "Chapters from My Autobiography", published in the North American Review, No. DCXVIII., July 5, 1907: "Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself."