Microsoft, Unisys Demo 64-bit Windows .NET Server Datacenter Edition

At its Windows .NET Server DevCon conference last week, Microsoft Corp. demonstrated 64-bit versions of its forthcoming Windows .NET Server 2003 Datacenter Edition and SQL Server products running on a 32-way Itanium 2-based ES7000 system designed by Unisys Corp.

Microsoft and Unisys divided a 32-way Itanium 2-based ES7000 system into two discrete logical partitions. One partition of 16 Itanium 2 processors limited its SQL Server database to 4 GB of addressable memory – the maximum amount of memory available in a conventional 32-bit environment. The other partition of 16 Itanium 2 microprocessors was outfitted with 64 GB of database memory – the maximum amount of memory addressable by Itanium 2.

The goal of the exercise, asserts Mark Feverston, vice president of enterprise server marketing with Unisys, was to demonstrate the superior performance of 64-bit Windows .NET Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, in managing large databases and in running complex queries.

“What we did at DevCon was we tried to show people what they could expect between today’s environment with 32-bit hardware and the environment when they move to .NET Datacenter with Itanium 2,” he explains.

Feverston says that the Itanium 2 partition with 64 GB of addressable memory performed its tasks – which consisted of “a series of complex queries” – 25 times faster than the partition with 4 GB of addressable memory.

“What we showed on the floor today was about 25 times the performance. Your mileage varies, obviously, but that’s what we showed today,” he asserts. “This particular demo shows the fact that complex queries can be accommodated in this environment and accelerated.”

Although still a niche market, Richard Fichera, a vice president and research fellow with consultancy Giga Information Group Inc., says that 64-bit computing will see greater uptick in the years to come, as Intel introduces more powerful 64-bit microprocessors – such as the next-generation Itanium “Madison” chip – and chip-making rivals such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) enter the fray, to boot. As 64-bit systems become more prevalent, Fichera argues, Microsoft will sell more 64-bit Windows .NET Server 2003 licenses.

“I think that over the next several years, Microsoft will have a lot of success with their 64-bit operating systems, and because of this I’m also very bullish on Itanium 2 and even on the AMD 64-bit architecture,” he says.

As a purveyor of the largest and most scalable Itanium 2 systems on the market, Fichera asserts, Unisys will successfully sell ES7000 systems outfitted with 64-bit versions of Windows .NET Server 2003.

“The Unisys reach will be concentrated in commercial applications, and it’ll be a combination of very large memory databases and numerically-intensive computing applications [such as transaction processing],” he says.

Microsoft is expected to ship 64-bit Windows .NET Server 2003 in lockstep with a 32-bit version of the product early next year. A 64-bit version of SQL Server is expected to be made available at about the same time.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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