The Competition, Conclusion
The E7 series occupies a well-fortified position. Oracle laid out an aggressive SPARC roadmap last August, but is still catching up with the rest of the industry as far as CPU roadmap execution is concerned. IBM's POWER architecture is considerably more competitive, but Intel opines that it can deliver identical performance at a fraction of the cost. Regardless of whether or not the figures above are accurate, the CPU giant has been using economies of scale and 'good enough' performance to eat into the server market for nearly 15 years. Intel was anything but shy in communicating its intent; the mainframe features of the Xeon E7 series were mentioned on more than one occasion.
Intel's only nod to its x86 competitor was to note that AMD's Opteron was decisively outsold by Itanium in terms of revenue. It's been just over a year since AMD slashed server pricing and attacked Intel by offering CPU cores at roughly 2:1. While the move improved AMD's price/performance ratio against its rival, it didn't reverse AMD's fortunes in the server market.
Intel, at least for now, is clearly king of the hill. Bulldozer will need to deliver in spades to hit the Xeon 5600 / E7 products, Oracle is busy with new workstations based on UltraSPARC, and IBM's core mainframe business—it's tasty, tasty, mainframe business—is Intel's primary target.