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Unisys, NEC Push the Performance Envelope.

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

While Hewlett-Packard Co and IBM Corp are slugging it out to demonstrate the highest performance levels in the server market with their respective "Superdome" Integrity and "Regatta-H" pSeries 690 platforms, they are by no means the only vendors pushing performance in the high-end Wintel server space. Unisys and NEC are in the game, and they demonstrated that with some benchmark results this week.

Unisys delivered two benchmark test results on its ES7000 Wintel servers. On the first test, an ES7000/420 "Aries" server with 16 1.5 GHz "Madison" Itanium 2 processors, 128 GB of main memory, and 14TB of disk capacity was able to crank through 291,411 transactions per minute (TPM) at a cost of $5.28 per TPM. Unlike the big boxes from HP and IBM, which have steep 35% to 40% discounts off list price and still only deliver price performance of approximately $8 per TPM, Unisys is delivering its much lower (and better) bang for the buck on a server running Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition and the new Oracle 10g grid-enabled database with a modest 13% discount. HP and IBM are, with their respective 64-way Superdome and 32-way Regatta-H servers, near the 800,000 TPM range running Oracle 10g, IBM's DB2, or Microsoft SQL Server on their iron. There is a price for all that extra scalability, to be sure, and Unisys knows that most companies do not need it. Hence, it has only created an Itanium 2 machine that scales to 16 processors in a single-system image.

It is important to point out that this 16-way Itanium 2 machine, the ES7000/420 Aries, using the 1.5GHz Madisons, offers higher performance and better price/performance than an ES7000/540 Orion, which had 32 "Gallatin" Pentium 4 Xeon MP processors running at 2.8GHz, 64 GB of main memory (the most a 32-bit server can support), and 14TB of disk. That ES7000/540 could handle 252,920 TPM at a cost of $7.22 per TPM. The Itanium box is the better deal, and it has half the number of processors, which is important for system and application software that has CPU-based pricing.

At the recent Siebel Systems user group meeting in San Diego, Unisys also demonstrated that an ES7000/540 "Orion" server with 28 Xeon MP processors running at 2GHz and 32GB of main memory could support 5,000 concurrent Siebel eBusiness users. Siebel eBusiness is the flagship CRM program sold by the company. Siebel has ported its software to various Unixes, but is still largely selling its software on the Windows platform. The Siebel tests were done on an Orion server equipped with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server and SQL Server 2003 Enterprise Edition. That system supported the Field Service 7.5, Call Center 7.5, Sales 7.5, PRM 7.5, eSales 7.5, and eService 7.5 modules. The ES7000/540 was fronted by three Unisys ES3040 Web servers, and two more ES3040 servers ran Web user load balancing programs and other middleware to link the Siebel application and database server to the Web servers, including Assignment Manager, MSMQ, Workflow Manager, and HTTP Adapter.

NEC continues to tune its "AzuzA" Itanium 2 servers running Windows applications, as it chases business in the Asia/Pacific region and tries to expand into the North American and European markets.

The latest TPC-C benchmark on the AzuzA server, which is sold as the Express5800/1320Xd, show that it can handle 577,531 TPM at a cost of $10.81 per TPM running the SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition on Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition. That AzuzA machine has 32 of the top-end Madison Itanium 2 chips, plus 512GB of main memory and 42 TB of disk capacity. The storage represented approximately half of the cost, and the whole shebang had a 25% discount off list price. If NEC discounted at the same level as IBM and HP, it would be in the same price/performance range as their high-end Unix and Windows boxes. An AzuzA server running Windows 2003 and the Oracle 10g database was tested last month and was able to handle 521,441 TPM at a cost of $11.77 per TPM (after a 16% discount) on essentially the same iron. (The disk capacities are different, to reflect the difference in the number of users supported on each benchmark run.) While IBM, HP, and Unisys are showing better performance with Oracle 10g than SQL Server, NEC is doing just the opposite. This is probably more the result of experience and tuning than any inherent architectural factors in the AzuzA design.
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Title Annotation:benchmark test results
Author:Morgan, Timothy Prickett
Publication:Computergram International
Date:Oct 22, 2003
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