Industry-Standard Benchmarking of ES7000 Begins

Scott Bekker

Late last month, Unisys published audited results on the Sales & Distribution (SD) benchmark using a Unisys e-Action ES7000, the Unisys brand name for its version of the CMP server.

Unisys' 32-processor capable CMP systems have been on the market for more than a year and represent the main route for Intel and Microsoft into data-center-class, vertical scalability.

The numbers lay a solid and realistic foundation for future scalability gains. They don't represent the kind of jaw-dropping, paradigm-shifting scalability gains that Microsoft unleashed in February 2000 with its horizontal scaling Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) benchmarks. The 16-processor system Unisys tested also doesn't provide an eye-popping increase over previous eight-processor system results.

"I think we're spot-on on where we expected to be. I think the next set of tests will prove that out," says Joe Ganem, director of the Unisys SAP Competency Centers. "Now that we have a measurement to base our future numbers on, I just think we have tremendous capacity to grow."

The simulated 10,400-user workload on the SD benchmark was the highest yet for a Windows-based system. Unisys pointed out that this was the first industry-standard benchmark of a Windows server with more than eight processors. In addition to the 16-processor ES7000 database server running Windows 2000 Datacenter Server and SQL Server 2000, Unisys employed 49 eight-processor application servers to run the test. The system consumed 880 GB of disk storage, CPU use on the database server ran at 99 percent during the test.

The SD benchmark lags behind two Solaris-Oracle systems and an AIX-DB2 system at 23,000 users, 19,360 users, and 16,640 users respectively.

Among Windows systems, the number to beat was 7,500 users, set in late March 2000 by Compaq with an eight-processor Windows 2000 Advanced Server with SQL Server 2000. That system had 25 eight-way application servers in the middle tier.

By doubling up on database processors and application servers, Unisys beat Compaq's number by about 40 percent.

"The 40 percent number is not bad considering that [the ES7000 is] brand new technology," Ganem says. "I'm confident, six to nine months down the road, we'll see that 40 percent number evolve to 60 percent or 70 percent."

Unisys is becoming aggressive on continued benchmarking.

"This is the first in a series of planned benchmarks," Ganem vows. "Sixteen-way is really just the first test. We have plans to do other benchmarks with 16-ways, but we also will be publishing 32-way numbers in the near future."

Unisys faced several roadblocks to benchmarking the new systems. Designed to leverage the scalability improvements in Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, Unisys found its server ready to ship nearly a year before Microsoft got its high-end operating system out the door. While Unisys officials haven't said so, SQL Server 2000 proved a further obstacle. Service Pack 1 was required to goose the database server past some multiprocessor scalability limitations.

Tony Iams, senior analyst at D.H. Brown Associates, says the SAP benchmark performance isn't great, but it is acceptable. "This is a step up in the credibility for Windows 2000 on a high-end SMP system," he says. "We would like to see it go up to larger numbers of processors, and it would also be good if it was a more industry standard benchmark, like the TPC. But it is an improvement." Unisys, too, is eager to move on to the TPC benchmark with its price/performance metric.

Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell all have agreements to resell Unisys CMP servers under their own brands.

The Big Iron approach with Unisys is one of two approaches to scalability Microsoft is pursuing. The other approach is horizontal scaling, which involves clustering many systems together. Microsoft and Compaq used that approach to vault to the top of the TPC-C raw performance benchmarks in February 2000, and the pair retains the top performance spot for clustered systems. Microsoft, however, has not shown any customer implementations of even two-node database clusters.

About the Author

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


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