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HP Pushes Wintel Superdome Performance Again.

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

What a wonderful world it would be if the hotshot system engineers at the world's major server vendors would come into your shop and tune your applications like they do the setups they use for the TPC-C test.

Hewlett-Packard Co has run four different benchmarks on its Windows-based Integrity Itanium servers in the past few months, each time wringing a little more performance and better bang for the buck out of what is essentially the same 64-way machine.

The latest test on the Integrity Superdome running Windows 2003 Datacenter Edition and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition brings it to within spitting distance to the machine when running HP's own HP-UX 11i Unix operating system and the future Oracle 10G database.

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 peripherals. 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 transactions per minute (TPM) on the TPC-C test at a cost of $8.28 per TPM.

Back in April, well before the late June launch of the 1.5GHz "Madison" Itanium 2 processors, HP was jumping the gun on the TPC-C tests when it posted results for a 64-way Integrity that delivered 658,278 TPM at a cost of $9.80 per TPM. This machine was running early versions of the Itanium hardware and the Windows stack, so it is not surprising that HP has been able to improve things.

But on the latest test, HP is showing 786,647 TPM at a cost of $6.49 per TPM. That's an increase of 20% in performance and an improvement in price/performance of 34% in the span of four months on essentially the same machine. This is a dramatic improvement, and it points out how any new architecture takes some time to learn and tune. It also points out that customers buying these big boxes should ask for ridiculous discounts. In the latest TPC-C result, the Wintel Integrity had a 44% discount. Back in April, the discount was only 38.5%.

Yesterday's new TPC-C test result for the Integrity Superdome running Windows is clearly aimed at demonstrating that the 64-way machine can deliver better bang for the buck and equivalent scalability to IBM Corp's recently revamped pSeries 690 AIX servers, which now have 32 of Big Blue's 1.7GHz Power4+ processors.

In late June, that 32-way "Regatta-H" pSeries 690 could handle 763,898 TPM running IBM's AIX variant of Unix and its own DB2 database. The Regatta-H server had 512GB of main memory and 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 whole 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.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 28, 2003
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