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HP Pushes Windows Server 2003 Scalability Higher

A day after Microsoft and NEC Corp. reached the top of the Transaction Processing Performance Council's OLTP benchmark raw performance list, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard smashed that record.

Both the NEC and HP results are based on Intel's unreleased third-generation of the Itanium processor, code-named "Madison."

The announcements were timed to coincide with the launch of Microsoft's Windows Server 2003, the first general release of Windows server that supports the 64-bit Itanium processor.

The record-breaking HP system contained 64 processors, twice as many as have ever been used in a Windows-based TPC-C benchmark.

The HP/Microsoft/Intel test achieved 658,277 tpmC (transactions per minute on the TPC-C test). That's a 28 percent performance boost over the 514,035 tpmC submitted to the TPC by NEC/Microsoft/Intel on Wednesday.

The result is also a 45 percent bump in performance over a 128-processor result run by Fujitsu on Sparc processors and Solaris back in 2001, which was the No. 1 result until Wednesday.

The 64-processor HP Superdome server, the backbone of a $6.4-million configuration, did well on Windows servers' traditional stronghold of price performance as well, registering a price per tpmC of $9.82.

During his Windows Server 2003 launch keynote Thursday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the NEC and HP results together validate a promise he made many years ago when hiring David Cutler, the architect of Windows NT.

"When we originally hired Dave Cutler, he said, 'Look, I don't want to work on toy operating systems. I want to work on real operating systems.' I know I can now look David in the eye and say, we're past that for sure," Ballmer said.

The system maxed out the capabilities of the 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition, using 64 processors and 512 GB of RAM. The benchmark also used the 64-bit version of SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition, which was also launched on Thursday.

The new "Madison" Itanium processors are due out in the middle of the year. They have a clockspeed of 1.5 GHz and 6 MB of cache.

Intel president and chief operating officer Paul Otellini said the processors are only a start for Intel Itanium-based scalability in the next few years.

While the follow-on to "Madison" will be a lower-end Itanium chip called "Deerfield," the one after that slated for 2005 will bring multiple-core technology to the processor. "These chips will take the absolute performance another two to three times higher," Otellini said. A few years after that, Otellini promised, "We have in development an Itanium processor that will take this up to a factor of 10 of where this [pointing to the HP Superdome on the stage] is today."

About the Author

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

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