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What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different CPU's ? How to choose a CPU ?

I know that there are 5 main CPU's types (also referred as "platforms or "architectures") - x86 (AMD, Intel); Itanium (Intel); PowerPC (IBM); Alpha (HP); SPAC (Sun). Each one has 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
However I cannot understand why and what for, so many CPU's types exist...
x86 has an almost total dominance, since Windows runs on it ("Wintel"), and the best Linux's versions are also for x86, and recently Apple Macintosh also become a x86 system. Why do x86 dominates ? Is it a better CPU when compared with others, or everything is a question of marketing's success ?  The computers equipped with other CPUs (different from x86) cost as much as a x86 computer, and there is much lesser availability of Operating Systems and additional applications to run on them. So, who will buy a computer with no x86 CPU ? The price is the same and they offer less software...
I know little about CPU's so this is very confusing to me... I would like somebody to help me to get more knowledge about CPU's... What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different CPU's ? How to choose a CPU ? Please do not forget I am a beginner so you must explain everything...  Thanks in advance.  Regards.
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asgarcymed
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asgarcymed
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CallandorCommented:
In my opinion, x86 dominance is due to Intel and AMD's marketing, their continual improvement of their products, and Microsoft's applications running on them.  No one actually has the freedom to choose a cpu architecture, unless one has a fondness for gambling.  You decide what application you need, and the platforms that it runs on determines what hardware to get.  By the way, servers have more variety of cpu architecture available to them, but the server market is  smaller than the desktop market.
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asgarcymedAuthor Commented:
No more opinions ?
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poko2121Commented:
I think the reason x86 has gained the most popularity is because of Microsoft and other big companies like intel and amd.  These giant companies can move the computer industry whichever way they want.  Intel chips and amd chips are the fastest growing and most popular chip manufacturers making the x86 platform very popular.  It has the most compatibility with operating systems and software.  

What makes the x86 the best one in my opinion is the support you have from Intel and Amd.  I and many other people like to go with mainstream companies who you know aren't going to all of a sudden disappear.  Plus Micrsofts support for them and now Apple is great assurance that the x86 platform isn't going away anytime soon.

People who choose different processors such as IBM's PPC chips could be for reasons like they like Apple.  Apple computers was using IBM chips just before the Intel switch and many people like the Apple operating system and computer design.  But now with the Apple to Intel switch, you're going to be seeing a lot more x86 chips.
Its the chip with the most support making it the most popular.

Hope this helps :-)
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asgarcymedAuthor Commented:
From a strictly technical point of view, could you please, compare the specifications between x86/Itanium/PowerPC/Alpha/SPARC ? (cache, memory control, FSB, clock...)
Thanks.
 Regards.
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asgarcymedAuthor Commented:
Well, it seems that there is no CPU expert :(
Can you, at least, recommend me some URLs to get more knowledge about CPUs ?
Thanks.
Regards.
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asgarcymedAuthor Commented:
Callandor - the URLs you recommended are very good, thank you!
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