Your message addressed platform performance, not network operations.
My reply is mostly just about network operations.
Just a side on the the Sun, Alpha Unix port discussion....
The performance numbers for the Pentium Pro have been coming in
(http://www.silkroad.com/linux-bm.html) and the results are
very exciting. UNIX ports to Intel architecuture are much more
mature than Alphas ports (goes without saying) and the P Pro
numbers are comparable to Alpha.
Route servers don't need to have high performance hardware. A 33MHz 486,
or god help us all, a Sun-3/60 or MicroVAX III would all have enough
horsepower to run RSd.
The same is true of root name servers.
Only three things matter:
1. memory. lots of it (256MB or so, with room to grow). ECC preferred.
2. support. two sun techs were still at Ames last night when I left at 3AM.
neither one of them knew as much about their hardware as most Linux users
know about Intel's, but they got the job done Even Without Any Wizards.
3. port-able. RSd makes some assumptions about sizeof(void*)==sizeof(int)
which aren't valid for the Alpha, else RS1 would have come up first.
this kind of bad code is quite common in our community, but on most
systems it doesn't hurt anything.
As most here know and understand, bare metal CPU Spec numbers do
not necessarily translate to a fast kernel or networking code, etc.
I have built and sold more than 50 BSD/OS servers in the last few years, and
I am a _very_strong_ proponent of the approach. My own root name server runs
on a P5-120 BSD/OS machine and I'm quite pleased with it. But if I need to
put a server far away where non-wizard field service technicians have to be
able to fix it, I pick a vendor like DEC or SGI or HP or Sun.
Performance, kernel performance, context switching speed, file system speed,
network performance, and all the rest are just side issues. For a WWW farm,
those things matter. For a Route Server or a root name server, they don't.
(All that said, the hardware behind the current RS1.MAE-WEST.RA.NET is the
latest and greatest Alpha, and it runs about 100% faster than a P6-200. Now
if we could just find the portability ickies in RSd, we'd be finished.)