Not that this seems to help you very much but sort was my first instinct too. My rather dated Debian Squeeze box is an AMD 3800+ (64 bit dual core) with 2 gigs RAM and one 5 year old IDE drive can almost do it.
$ perl 860849.pl
Took 131.000000 seconds for 10000000 items (0.00001 per second)
I think I could reach that 108 by putting the sorted file on a separate spindle with a thinner filesystem layer (e.g. no ext3 and LVM2).
I'm really pointing this out because it's quite attainable with a reasonably recent hard drive. Maybe even just SATA/PATA would do the trick. SSD surely would.