Microsoft, Compaq Re-establish Scale-Out Leadership of SQL Server 2000

REDMOND, Wash., July 27, 2000 — Like Sylvester Stallone in the next-to-last reel of a Rocky film, things didn’t look good for Microsoft SQL Server 2000. With great fanfare during the launch of Windows 2000 last February, Microsoft’s Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced world record-setting performance numbers for SQL Server 2000 running on Compaq hardware. But then, last month, the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC), which oversees the benchmarking process, determined that the results did not comply with one of its requirements and the results were disqualified.

But like Rocky rising from the canvas to score a knockout, Microsoft and Compaq have released new performance results that not only address the TPC’s earlier concern but also exceed the earlier Microsoft-Compaq performance record and provide the industry’s best price/performance on clustered hardware.

Delivering More Performance than Oracle-Sun at Lower Cost

The highest of four new performance numbers on the TPC-C benchmark show SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition achieving a rate of 262,243 transactions per minute on a federated cluster of 12 ProLiant 8500 servers. That beats the record that Microsoft and Compaq set last February by 15 percent and, like that earlier measure, also beats the best performance results from Oracle and Sun, delivering nearly twice the performance of the largest Sun system. At this transaction rate, SQL Server 2000 could handle all of the e-commerce transactions that Amazon.com and eBay.com processed in 1999 — and it could do it in just two days.

Also among the four new results announced by Microsoft-Compaq is the industry’s best price/performance figure for clustered hardware: $19.75 per tpmC. That’s better price/performance than IBM’s best DB2 cluster result and less than a quarter the cost per tpmC of the best Oracle-Sun result .

The new Microsoft-Compaq numbers come just three weeks after the companies’ earlier setback, while Oracle, whose nearest TPC-C performance is a distant third in the industry, has improved its best performance by a scant 2.2 percent since losing the lead five months ago. Today, Oracle’s top TPC-C performance result is seventh, behind results from Microsoft and IBM.

“These results confirm that Microsoft SQL Server 2000 offers a tremendously powerful database solution that not only scales up but also scales out using low-cost hardware, so that virtually any organization can add scalability at the lowest possible cost,”
said Paul Flessner, vice president of Microsoft .NET enterprise servers.
“We’ve not only shown that our new SQL Server 2000 results are in full compliance with the TPC-C requirements, we’ve also exceeded the performance of the now-withdrawn results we delivered in February.”

Meeting the TPC’s Primary Key Requirements

The withdrawal of the earlier numbers followed a June 29 meeting of the TPC, at which time the Council found that the Microsoft-Compaq results did not comply with clause 1.6.3 of the TPC-C specifications, requiring that a database have the ability to update all columns in a table. When the original benchmarks were run, SQL Server 2000 (in a multinode configuration) did not allow updates to a table’s primary key columns — which are the columns that define the unique identifier for each row in a table — such as an employee number or social security number.

After the Council’s concern was raised, Microsoft modified its software and the two companies submitted additional tests, verified by three TPC auditors, showing that the revised solution supports updates to the primary key and that the performance was consistent with the original benchmark. In spite of the additional tests, the council decided that the original results did not comply with the specification requirements.

Although other databases used in previous clustered TPC-C benchmark results have not supported primary key updates, last month’s action was the only time the Council has rejected a benchmark on this basis. While Microsoft respectfully disagrees with the Council’s decision on this issue, it supports the TPC’s process. Microsoft has already changed the code in recent builds of Microsoft SQL Server 2000– scheduled for release later this summer — and all new versions support primary key updates.

Supporting primary key updates further enhances the Distributed Partitioned Views feature in SQL Server 2000. This feature, which allows the system to partition database processing across several independent servers, is responsible for SQL Server 2000’s scale-out performance on the TPC-C benchmark.

Achieving the Benchmark

Microsoft and Compaq achieved the new benchmark results using clusters of eight and 12 Compaq ProLiant 8500 database servers. Each server had eight Intel Pentium III Xeon 700 MHz or 550 MHz processors and 8 GB of memory. In addition, the measured systems included 24 to 36 application servers (three per node) running Microsoft’s Web server, Internet Information Server. Compaq’s ServerNet II provided high-speed interconnect between the database servers.

“Microsoft remains a committed member of the TPC and our customers can look forward to Microsoft’s ongoing and active participation in TPC benchmarking,”
said Steve Murchie, group product manager for SQL Server.
“Our record-setting price/performance results show that SQL Server 2000 satisfies TPC criteria while offering low-cost, virtually unlimited scale-out capabilities for the most demanding e-commerce environments.”

Compaq ProLiant 8500-700-96P, 262,243 tpmC, 20.24 $/tpmC, available 09/30/00.

Compaq ProLiant 8500-700-64P, 179,658 tpmC, 19.75 $/tpmC, available 09/30/00.

IBM Netfinity 8500R, 440,879 tpmC, 32.28 $/tpmC, available 12/7/00.

Sun Enterprise 6500 Cluster, 135,461 tpmC, 97.10 $/tpmC, available 1/31/00.