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NEC Shatters Windows Non-clustered Scalability Record

NEC Corp. blasted back into the high-end Windows scalability fray this week with the first major audited benchmark showing significant scalability for a 64-bit Windows-based system.

At the Intel Developer Forum this week, NEC released a result from the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPC-C benchmark for On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) scalability using its 32-processor NEC TX7 Server. The database back-end was a single NEC TX7 Server with 32 Itanium 2 processors, pre-release code of 64-bit Windows .NET Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, and pre-release code of 64-bit SQL Server 2000, Enterprise Edition.

The system achieved the fifth-best non-clustered result overall, after five Unix systems (two are tied), and nearly doubled the performance of the previous best Windows system -- a Unisys 32-processor machine running 32-bit processors and software.

True to the promise of Microsoft-Intel solutions in the enterprise, the cost per transaction was lower than any of the Unix systems that had better raw performance results than the NEC/Itanium 2/Microsoft combination.

Tony Iams, senior analyst with D.H. Brown Associates Inc., in Port Chester, N.Y., says the NEC benchmark is an important one for Windows Datacenter Server.

"Until now most of Microsoft's high-water marks have been with cluster architectures. That has always been Microsoft's strong suit," says Tony Iams. "But there are many real-world applications that don't scale in that kind of environment."

For Iams, one of the key enablers of the big NEC result is the 64-bit version of SQL Server, beta code that Microsoft is expected to release late this year. "[Microsoft's] whole stack was not 64-bit optimized. It's really only now that all of these levels are becoming optimized for 64-bits."

According to documents filed with the TPC by NEC, the system will be available Dec. 31, 2002. Microsoft has said all editions of Windows .NET Server 2003 and 64-bit SQL Server 2000 will be available by the end of this year.

NEC gained early attention in the 64-bit Windows arena with a 1999 demonstration of a 16-processor system running prototype Itanium 64-bit processors from Intel. The Japanese-based company has been quiet in the United States since then.

NEC currently sells the hardware in Japan for scientific and technology use. "NEC will be introducing this product worldwide with Windows .NET Server 2003 for large-scale enterprise computing," the company said in a statement.

Benchmark profiles

Database system: NEC's new 32-processor 64-bit system running Itanium 2 and a beta Microsoft OS and database.
Raw performance: 308,620 TPC-C transactions per minute (tmpC)
Price/performance: $14.96/tpmC
Overall system cost: $4.6 million
Availability date: Dec. 31, 2002

Best Unix result:
Database system: Fujitsu Primepower 2000 with 128 Fujitsu SPARC64 processors, running Sun Solaris 8 and the SymfoWARE Server Enterprise Edition database.
Raw performance: 455,818 tpmC
Price/performance: $28.58/tpmC
Overall system cost: $12 million
Availability date: Feb. 28, 2002

Previous Best Windows result:
Database system: Unisys ES7000 with Windows Datacenter Server, Limited Edition, SQL Server 2000, Enterprise Edition and 32 Pentium III Xeon 900-MHz processors.
Raw performance: 165,218 tpmC
Price/performance: $21.33
Overall system cost: $3.5 million
Availability date: March 10, 2002

Best Windows clustered result:
Database system: Spread over 32 HP ProLiant DL760 servers, each with 8 Pentium III Xeon 900-MHz processors. Running Windows 2000 Advanced Server and SQL Server 2000, Enterprise Edition.
Raw performance: 709,220 tpmC
Price/performance: $14.96
Overall system cost: $10.6 million
Availability date: Oct. 15, 2001

About the Author

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

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