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Scale-Out: Compaq -- Again -- Takes Top Spot in TPC-C

Compaq Computer Corp. on Wednesday unveiled record scalability on the Transaction Processing Performance Council's OLTP benchmark using 32 ProLiant machines running Windows 2000 Advanced Server and SQL Server 2000.

Compaq and IBM Corp. have been leapfrogging one another on the benchmark since February of 2000 -- the launch date for Windows 2000.

Compaq's latest result is 709,220 transactions per minute on the TPC-C benchmark (tpmC). Over the course of a day, that would amount to more than 1 billion transactions, Compaq notes. For comparison, that's about three times the daily worldwide workload of the busiest credit card processing company.

Tim Golden, director of enterprise server product marketing for Compaq, says the company did the benchmark to demonstrate its commitment to scale-out clustering and to show that it can drive down the costs of the technique.

Compaq's latest result provides a 3 percent raw performance improvement over IBM's most recent effort in April. But the Compaq system cost about 33 percent less per transaction than IBM's system did. Total cost of the Compaq system is $10.6 million.

Mike Nikolaiev, director of database engineering for Compaq, says Compaq managed to lower the costs on this run by using a quarter of the memory, half as many disk drives and one third fewer clients than IBM did.

"Obviously there's this high water proof point, and there are very few customers who really need that kind of computing power," Nikolaiev says. "Most of our customers may only be running four or eight or 16 [database] systems."

To get the systems to scale, Compaq uses a feature of SQL Server called Distributed Partition Views (DPV), which essentially allows the database to be split into component parts that can run on different physical machines. A liability of the approach is that it greatly reduces the availability of the database. If you run a four-node DPV, the failure of any one node can take down the entire database.

Nikolaiev says in customer implementations, Compaq combines DPV with Microsoft Cluster Services to keep the whole database highly available. He estimates that the approach might add 20 percent to 30 percent to the cost of the system, and says Compaq may run a future benchmark in that more realistic configuration.

The Compaq system is scheduled to be available Oct. 15.

About the Author

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