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Shiloh, W2K Advanced Server Get Serious Test

Hardware OEMs are releasing Transaction Processing Performance Council benchmarks based on beta versions of Microsoft Corp.’s SQL Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

Over the last two weeks, Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp. and Unisys Corp. (www.unisys.com) submitted results to the TPC (www.tpc.org). All the results were for a new decision support benchmark called the TPC-H, and each came close to the performance of a Sun Microsystems Co.-Informix Corp. result – the only other result posted so far.

"It would be an understatement to say that Microsoft is pretty excited about the performance we’ve achieved for this benchmark," says Barry Goffe, a product manager for SQL Server, Microsoft’s flagship relational database management system.

Officially, each OEM’s submission to the TPC lists the RDBMS as SQL Server 7.5. Goffe says the listing doesn’t constitute an "admission" by Microsoft that SQL Server 7.0’s successor, known by its code name of "Shiloh," will be named SQL Server 7.5. TPC rules don’t permit product code names. Goffe says Microsoft hasn’t finalized what it will call the RDBMS when it comes out in mid-2000.

Shiloh just entered its beta testing phase a few weeks ago. About 500 customers and partners are putting the database through its paces. A public beta is planned for early 2000.

The OEMs ran the benchmarks on eight-way servers based on Intel’s Profusion chipset. The results continue a push by hardware OEMs to show their prowess with Profusion, the first eight-way chipset that has delivered linear scalability for Windows NT on the Intel platform. Unisys opened the Profusion benchmarking in June by publishing results under the TPC-C, an Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) measure.

The TPC-H is one of two descendants of the retired TPC-D benchmark, which had measured the performance of decision support database systems. The emergence of a technology known as "materialized views" led to radically improved performance on the TPC-D.

With a materialized view, a database administrator who knows what data users will query can set up a table that constantly gets that data from other online transactional tables as they are updated.

Microsoft, which did not support materialized views in SQL Server 7.0 but will provide the feature in Shiloh, and others complained that materialized views robbed the TPC-D benchmark of its value for measuring ad hoc queries.

The result is two new decision support benchmarks: TPC-H for ad hoc queries and TPC-R for reporting. TPC-R permits the use of materialized views. So far, only NCR Corp. has published a TPC-R result.

Sun-Informix posted the first TPC-H result in July: 1,280 queries per hour (QphH) at a price per QphH of $816 on a Sun Enterprise 4500 system with 12 processors running Informix Dynamic Server AD.

That mark was the sole TPC-H result until this month, when the hardware OEMs began publishing their Windows 2000/Profusion/Shiloh results.

HP was first on Oct. 4 with 1,125 QphH at $253/QphH on a NetServer LXr 8500. Unisys followed Oct. 12 with 1,194 QphH at $288/QphH on an Aquanta ES5085R. On Oct. 14, Compaq delivered 1,233 QphH at $285/QphH on a ProLiant 8500.

As a group the NT/Intel systems provide 88 percent-96 percent of the performance of the Sun-Informix system at 31 percent-35 percent of the price.

Compaq, HP and Unisys each listed April 3, 2000 as the availability date for a complete system. -- Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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