Hardware OEMs Release TPC Benchmarks Based on Shiloh

Several hardware OEMs took Shiloh and Windows 2000 Advanced Server for a test drive recently. They liked what they saw enough to submit results gotten from the two pieces of Microsoft Corp. beta software to the database benchmarking organization, the Transaction Processing Performance Council (www.tpc.org).

Results from Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp. and Unisys Corp. (www.unisys.com) went up on the benchmarking authority’s Web site in the first half of October. All were for a new decision support benchmark called the TPC-H, and came close to the performance of a Sun Microsystems Co.-Informix Corp. result – the only other result posted so far.

"It would be an understatement to say that Microsoft is pretty excited about the performance we’ve achieved for this benchmark," says Barry Goffe, a product manager for SQL Server, Microsoft’s flagship relational database management system. Shiloh is the code name for the next version of SQL Server 7.0.

The OEMs ran the benchmarks on eight-way servers based on Intel’s Profusion chipset. The results continue a push by hardware OEMs to show their prowess with Profusion, the first eight-way chipset that has delivered linear scalability for Windows NT on the Intel platform. Unisys opened the Profusion benchmarking in June by publishing results under the TPC-C, an Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) measure.

The TPC-H is one of two descendants of the retired TPC-D benchmark, which had measured the performance of decision support database systems. The emergence of a technology known as "materialized views" led to radically improved performance on the TPC-D.

With a materialized view, a database administrator who knows what data users will query can set up a table that constantly gets that data from other online transaction tables as they are updated.

Microsoft, which did not support materialized views in SQL Server 7.0 but will provide the feature in Shiloh, and others complained that materialized views robbed the TPC-D benchmark of its value for measuring ad hoc queries.

The result is two new decision support benchmarks: TPC-H for ad hoc queries and TPC-R for reporting. TPC-R permits the use of materialized views. So far, only NCR Corp. has published a TPC-R result. Goffe says he is unaware of any OEMs working on a TPC-R benchmark with Shiloh.

Sun-Informix posted the first TPC-H result in July: 1,280 queries per hour (QphH) at a price per QphH of $816 on a Sun Enterprise 4500 system with 12 processors running Informix Dynamic Server AD.

That mark was the sole TPC-H result until this month, when the hardware OEMs began publishing their Windows 2000/Profusion/SQL Server results.

HP was first on Oct. 4 with 1,125 QphH at $253/QphH on a NetServer LXr 8500. Unisys followed Oct. 12 with 1,194 QphH at $288/QphH on an Aquanta ES5085R. On Oct. 14, Compaq delivered 1,233 QphH at $285/QphH on a ProLiant 8500.

As a group the NT/Intel systems provide 88 percent-96 percent of the performance of the Sun-Informix system at 31 percent-35 percent of the price.

Compaq, HP and Unisys each listed April 3, 2000 as the availability date for a complete system.

Officially, each OEM’s submission to the TPC lists the RDBMS as SQL Server 7.5. Goffe says the listing doesn’t constitute an "admission" by Microsoft that SQL Server 7.0’s successor, known by its code name of "Shiloh," will be named SQL Server 7.5. TPC rules don’t permit product code names. Goffe says Microsoft hasn’t finalized what it will call the RDBMS when it comes out in mid-2000.

Shiloh entered its beta testing phase last month. About 500 customers and partners are putting the database through its paces. A public beta is planned for early 2000.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server is expected to go to Beta 3 Release Candidate 3 later this month. The upgrade to Windows NT Server 4.0, Enterprise Edition, is on the same release path as Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server. A higher end SKU with many features geared specifically to supporting large databases, Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, is supposed to ship three to four months after the other components of Windows 2000.

Goffe predicts better results as Shiloh’s beta code matures. "We’re using this benchmark not only as a comparison with other products, but as a comparison for ourselves," he says. "We fully expect as we go from Beta 1 to Beta 2 and from Beta 2 to Release to Manufacturing, we expect there to be performance improvements."