Unisys Publishes TPC-C Benchmark

Unisys Corp. this week published a TPC-C benchmark, the gold standard of OLTP scalability, for a 32-processor system running Windows Datacenter Server. The result puts a Microsoft-Intel system in the performance neighborhood of Unix/RISC systems.

A TPC-C benchmark has been one of the major proof points that analysts have been calling on Unisys and Microsoft to deliver to show that their hardware and software match the companies' scalability claims. Analysts also stress the importance of production examples in proving new technology. Unisys has been unveiling customer deployments since launching its ES7000 servers in late 1999.

Although the benchmark has its critics, the broad vendor participation in setting requirements and contesting results gives the measure a degree of credibility over many other scalability benchmarks. Previously, Unisys had performed its scalability benchmarks with its 32-way ES7000 system on SAP's R/3 benchmark, which does not reveal how much systems cost.

The Unisys system achieved 141,138 transactions per minute on the TPC-C benchmark (tpmC). The result is slightly less than a third of the best Unix/RISC result, but good enough for a number 9 ranking on the TPC-C's list of the best results using a single back-end database server.

"This validates the positioning that we've promoted for quite awhile, and it validates the role that Datacenter Server and SQL Server will play at the enterprise level," said Stephen Holzman, a spokesman for Unisys.

The Unisys system used 32 of Intel's latest Pentium III Xeon 900 MHz processors and 64 GB of RAM. The Microsoft Corp. software in use in the test system is not yet available. Unisys used the Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition operating system, a new version of Microsoft's high-end operating system announced this week that will be available in the first half of 2002. Unisys also used the as-yet-unreleased Service Pack 2 version of SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition.

That service pack added support within the database for the 64 GB of RAM that Datacenter Limited Edition supports.

Microsoft was also eager to discuss the results. "This really pushes the 32-bit Intel architecture beyond where it's been pushed in many ways," said Microsoft spokesman Jeff Ressler. "Most of the players on the non-clustered results list are 64-bit RISC-based chips."

Ressler emphasized that the Unisys architecture leaves plenty of room for growth. "The piece of hardware that Unisys uses is a McKinley-ready box and an Itanium-ready box. Customers can say I know I have a path to grow in the same chassis," Ressler said.

The $3,360,000 system Unisys used in the test has the best price performance of any of the top systems, but not by the usual Microsoft-Intel margin.

The Unisys system came in at $23.84/tpmC, while the No. 1 ranked Fujitsu system with more than three times the raw performance cost $28.58/tpmC.

By comparison, the previous highest performing Datacenter/900 MHz Pentium III Xeon -- a Dell 8-way with about half the raw performance of the new Unisys test system -- cost $8.46/tpmC.

About the Author

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