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IBM Bumps Microsoft from Top Spot in TPC-C

Mere weeks after its years-long drive up the TPC-C benchmark performance charts culminated in the top position, Microsoft lost out late last week to a Unix system from IBM. Microsoft, no doubt, will be back, but the result shows that the Unix camp has far from ceded the premiere OLTP scalability benchmark to the upstart Windows-Intel side of the market.

IBM on Friday published a result of 680,613 transactions per minute (tpmC) on the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPC-C benchmark. (Click here to view the TPC Web site).

IBM achieved the result with a 32-processor IBM eServer pSeries 690 Turbo 7040-681 machine running the IBM AIX 5L V5.2 operating system and the IBM DB2 Universal Database version 8.1. This truly Blue hardware and software stack anchored a massive configuration of dozens of client systems and cabinets full of storage, like all large-scale TPC-C results. In this case, the configuration cost $7.5 million and would be available as a complete system starting in November.

The new IBM test run edges by the performance trumpeted late last month by Microsoft and HP. That $6.5 million configuration, announced at the Windows Server 2003 launch to highlight the scalability of the new operating system, reached 658,277 tpmC on 64 Intel "Madison" processors, Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition (64-bit) and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit).

In all, IBM beat the HP-Microsoft raw performance by 3 percent at a cost that amounts to 14 percent more per transaction ($11.13/tpmC for IBM compared with $9.80/tpmC for HP).

IBM's new result looks even better when set against an NEC-Microsoft result announced the day before the Windows Server 2003 launch that also ran on 32 processors. In that case, the IBM result shows both far better performance, 32 percent, and better economics, being 3 percent less expensive per transaction.

Windows and SQL Server have steadily climbed the TPC-C benchmark raw performance charts since the mid-90s. Nowhere near the best non-clustered large Unix systems even two years ago, Microsoft and its Intel-based hardware partners have been steadily moving ahead of Unix/RISC vendors recently. The convergence of massive SMP systems based on Intel's 64-bit Itanium family of processors with Microsoft's long-awaited delivery of a 64-bit software stack has powered the company's breakthrough into the upper tier of benchmark performance.

Even as Microsoft and its hardware partners battle Unix systems on the benchmarks, Microsoft's most important work now will be supporting and bringing forward reference customers who can show the technology is working in real environments.

About the Author

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

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