As it pertains to IA software, both legacy products and Ignition, I would say that the storage subsystem is the most important when it comes to performance, followed closely by speed/amount of memory. Processor speed would come in 3rd.
Because most of us will be storing historical data and crunching numbers from there, the storage subsystem is very important and like any other application, will be our bottleneck. If you dont store lots of historical data, and dont do any complex queries, I would say you could spend a little less here though. When I look at buying a machine for use with Ignition, I would recommend atleast a 2 disk array for redundancy, specing SAS drives, with as fast a spindle speed as you can afford. For 99% of use, disk size will not be an issue, so again, spec accordingly.
Next comes memory, and in the database world, the more you have, the better.The memory is used to query result and index caching. Most people begin to shard data when they cannot keep there working set inside of memory, but that amount of data tends to be quite large, as commodity hardware can run 512 Gb ram now, sometimes more.
The reason I put the processor last is because even a low level server class processor is smoking fast. Right now, we have an install with a quad core 2.8 Ghz processor, about a year old. This machine is currently used to virtualize the some servers because we need to run both Windows and Linux servers (that need changed today actually, so we are ditching that for a physical host install of linux). Anyways, it is running RSView, FactoryPMI, FactorySQL, MySQl and Ignition all in seperate VMs. The memory usage is at 13 Gb of 16, but the processor is using 800 MhZ. As you can see, there is lots of room for scale. Soon, we are getting rid of RSView, so we dont need Windows or OPC-DA anymore.
Lastly, all of my Ignition installs will be in Linux. MySQL on Linux blows MySQL in Windows out of the water, both for performance and options.
I just ordered a new machine today, and I chose a Dell R410, wich a single processor, the slowest HT capable one. I also chose 16 GB, and will be using either a 2x 15k 146 GB SAS setup, or order a Fusion-IO card (www.fusionio.com). Again, size wont be an option, so a 80 Gb card would be big enough.
If you need any other information let me know, Ill try to help. Again this is just my findings, and someone else might have a different opinion, but I would love to hear about other peoples server setups.