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Compaq, Microsoft Set Record TPC-C Benchmark

Windows 2000 has again broken the raw performance record on the closely watched TPC-C benchmark. A 24-node cluster of Compaq servers running Windows 2000 Advanced Server and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition processed more than half a million transactions in a minute on the benchmark.

Compaq designed, assembled and tweaked the server configuration with an eye to setting a new record for the benchmark, which is designed and maintained by the Transaction Processing Performance Council.

The server configuration consists of twenty-four Compaq Proliant 8500 machines, each sporting eight Intel Pentium III Xeons clocked at 700MHz. The configuration completed 505,302.77 transaction in a minute. By contrast, a 12-node configuration using identical machines completed slightly more than half the transactions in a minute, 262,243.

“There’s always a little bit of overhead with scaling out,” says Steve Cumings, Manager, Product Strategy and Business Planning, at Compaq. When more machines are clustered together, CPU utilization increases because of the added work of communication between machines.

“The good news is that there is excellent scalability,” Cumings says. Although the performance does not quite double when the machines are doubled, the performance increase is still great enough to justify scaling up to 24 machines. Cumings says that Compaq is pleased that the price/performance figure still hovers around $20. The 12-node cluster costs $20.24 per tpmC, while the 24-node cluster costs $20.64 per tpmC.

The Compaq/Microsoft configuration edges out a 32-node Windows 2000 Advanced Server benchmark performed by IBM that ran away to 440,879 transactions per minute using IBM's DB2 database software. All of the top five results on the TPC-C performance charts run Windows 2000 Advanced Server in clustered configurations.

Cumings says that although no users have deployed a similar configuration in a production environment – users are waiting on SQL Server 2000 and Compaq’s implementation of Virtual Interface – dot-com customers are likely to be early adopters of a similar configuration. Since dot-coms often need to scale quickly and cheaply, they could begin with a 12-node configuration, then ramp up to a 24-node configuration with minimal hits to performance or the ledger.

Some vendors such as Sun Microsystems Inc. have criticized similar TPC-C benchmarks using n-node clusters. They contend that they are not measures of scalability and have little relation to server configurations that are deployed in production environments.

Friday’s benchmark is a demonstration of Microsoft’s scale-out strategy for high-end databases. However, the flagship machine for the scale-up strategy, Unisys’ 32 processor ES/7000, which Compaq resells as its ML770, has yet to be listed on the TPC’s benchmark site. Cumings expects to see numbers for that machine appear soon. “It would be fairly normal for us to benchmark that machine,” he says. -- Christopher McConnell

About the Author

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

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