Editorial: Scalability Soars

8-way systems with Profusion chips boost SQL Server scalability

SQL Server continues to ride the wave of scalability that swells with each new generation of hardware. The new 8-way systems based on Intel's Profusion chips have moved SQL Server 7.0 scalability to new heights. The Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) recently released scores by Dell and Fujitsu that reinforced SQL Server 7.0's new performance levels at the 40,000 TPC-C mark (for more information, visit the TPC Web site at http://www.tpc.org). Fujitsu briefly topped the list of all SQL Server scores by posting a score of 40,696.25 before Compaq reclaimed its position at the top of the SQL Server TPC-C list with a score of 40,697.2. These marks are in addition to the recent 40,000-plus TPC-C scores that Unisys and Compaq have already recorded. At the time of this writing, IBM and HP have yet to post new TPC scores on their 8-way systems, but I expect that they will before the end of 2000.

Even these scores leave SQL Server short of the all-time top 10 performance leaders, but I have little doubt that with each new wave of hardware and server software, SQL Server will rapidly ascend toward the TPC-C peaks. At this rate, the release of SQL Server 2000, combined with the large memory support provided by the Physical Address Extensions (PAE) and Address Windowing Extensions (AWE) support in Windows 2000 (Win2K), will likely squelch any nagging questions about SQL Server scalability. Although SQL Server hasn't yet cracked the top 10 performance list, it has sewn up the price and performance list. SQL Server 7.0 Enterprise Edition running on Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise edition holds all of the top 10 price and performance spots. The recent Dell PowerEdge scores are the current high mark, with a total TPC-C transactions per minute (tpm) mark of 40,168 at $14.68 per tpmC.

While on the subject of TPC-C scores, I need to clarify a statement that I made in "From Alpha to Omega" (Editorial, November 1999), in which I lamented the demise of Win2K support on Compaq's Alpha systems. I said that Alphas were used to set most of the TPC performance records for SQL Server. But in fact, all the recent high SQL Server benchmark scores were obtained on Intel-based systems. With the numbers that the latest 8-way systems are posting, Compaq's decision to drop Alpha support for Win2K makes some sense. From Compaq's perspective, it must be difficult to sell the higher-priced Alpha systems when the performance advantage over Intel 8-way systems is insignificant or even nonexistent.

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