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HP's 64-Way Superdome-Unix Combo Tops TPC-C Test.

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

The techies at Hewlett Packard Co have been working overtime trying to squeeze every bit of performance out of the new 64-way Integrity Superdome machines that use Intel Corp's "Madison" Itanium 2 processors. HP announced yesterday that it had beat IBM Corp's best result on the TPC-C online transaction processing benchmark test, breaking the 800,000 transactions per minute (TPM) barrier for the first time.

HP broke the 700,000 TPM back in April when Windows Server 2003 was launched by Microsoft Corp. That test was also on a 64-way Integrity Superdome using the 1.5GHz/6MB L2 cache version of the Itanium 2 processors; this machine ran Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition. This time around, HP tested the same iron using its HP-UX 11i variant of the Unix operating system and the forthcoming Oracle 10G grid-enabled relational database from Oracle Corp. While Oracle 9i Enterprise Edition sells for $40,000 per processor with a 25% discount or $1.9m on a 64-way Superdome (using PA-RISC or Itanium 2 chips), Oracle 10G will, according to HP's TPC-C report, sell for $20,000 per processor. With a 25% discount, this puts Oracle 10G in the same pricing band as SQL Server on the Superdome machines. This is not an accident.

On the HP-UX/Oracle 10G test, the Superdome machine with 512GB of main memory and 64 Itanium 2 processors cost $4.36m. Main memory was half of that, Itanium processors were a quarter, and the rest was sundry peripherals and boxes. The 26.5TB of disk storage attached to this server had a list price of $5.16m, and HP-UX and Oracle 10G cost $1.43m. Add in application servers and three years of maintenance, and the whole shebang cost $13.27m. After a whopping 51% discount for a large systems configuration, HP was able to show the machine could deliver 824,165 TPM at a cost of $8.28 per TPM. HP's discounting has progressed from 38.5% on Windows boxes in April. On the latest Superdome tests running Windows, HP delivered 707,102 TPM at a cost of $8.44 per TPM. That configuration had a 36% discount. While the HP boxes running HP-UX and Oracle 10G can demonstrate a 17% performance benefit compared to the same iron running Windows 2003 and SQL Server, the price/performance only comes in line - even after using a much less expensive version of Oracle - with much steeper discounting. The funny thing is that the Windows Superdome had 10TB more of disk, and still cost less. That's the difference between using Compaq's Modular SAN Array 1000s on Windows and using the Surestore Virtual Array 7110 on the HP-UX box. The HP-UX and Oracle 10G performance probably depended to a certain extent on the Surestore arrays.

In late June, IBM put the 1.7GHz Power4+ processors in its 32-way "Regatta-H" pSeries 690 servers, and was able to crank through 763,898 TPM running its AIX variant of Unix and its DB2 database. The Regatta-H server had 32 1.7GHz Power4+ processor cores (with a 1.5 MB shared, on-chip L2 cache for every two cores), 512MB of L3 cache, and 512GB of main memory. The Regatta-H server cost $3.27 million, with $1.38 million going for main memory alone and $1.5m going for processors. AIX and DB2 for the server cost $632,725. The pSeries 690 server cost $10.7m at list price, but IBM tossed in a 41% large systems discount, which dropped the cost of the machine down to $8.31 per TPM.

IBM is said to be readying a benchmark of its own showing Oracle performance on this Regatta-H box, and the word on the street is that IBM will deliver a Power4+ processor running at 2GHz or faster before the year is out. Traditionally, IBM has announced high-end servers in September or October, and there is no reason to believe that this will not happen again. Such a machine could hit a performance of anywhere between 875,000 TPM to 890,000 TPM running DB2, and could break 900,000 TPM running Oracle.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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