As expected, Microsoft submitted new performance benchmarks for SQL Server 2000. And the new scores comply with the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) requirements that disqualified the company's previous record-setting score. Although the required changes could have caused a dip in performance, the new scores are 15 percent faster, and, according to Microsoft, the scores deliver the industry's best price-to-performance ratio on clustered hardware. Although SQL Server can't yet touch the recent performance record that IBM DB2 attained, Microsoft can at least crow that all the top TPC-C benchmark scores were obtained by databases running on Windows 2000 Server.

Microsoft achieved a score of 262,243 transactions per minute (tpmC) on a cluster of 12 Compaq ProLiant 8500 servers—which exceeds Sun Microsystems' and Oracle's best entries but falls short of the 440,879.95 tpmC that DB2 achieved. Still, SQL Server produced this benchmark at a cost of only $19.75 per tpmC, far below IBM's $32.28 per tpmC. Microsoft notes that this SQL Server 2000 configuration could handle in only 2 days all the e-commerce transactions that Amazon.com and eBay processed in 1999.

"These results confirm that Microsoft SQL Server 2000 offers a tremendously powerful database solution that not only scales up but also scales out using low-cost hardware, so that virtually any organization can add scalability at the lowest possible cost," said Paul Flessner, vice president of Microsoft .NET enterprise servers. "We've not only shown that our new SQL Server 2000 results are in full compliance with the TPC-C requirements, we've also exceeded the performance of the now-withdrawn results we delivered in February."

Microsoft withdrew earlier benchmark scores amid some controversy: Rival Oracle complained that the original results didn't comply with a clause in the TPC-C specifications that requires that the benchmarked database have the ability to update all columns in a table. When Microsoft recorded its original benchmarks, SQL Server 2000 didn't allow updates to a table's primary key columns in a multimode configuration. So, Microsoft modified SQL Server to adhere to the TPC-C specification, although the company notes that previous record holders—including whistle-blower Oracle—didn't comply with the specification either.

Microsoft and Compaq teamed up to achieve this new benchmark score by using a cluster of 12 Compaq database servers, each with eight Intel Pentium III Xeon 700 microprocessors and 8GB of memory. Compaq also provided high-speed connections among the database servers using its ServerNet II solution.

"Microsoft remains a committed member of the TPC, and our customers can look forward to Microsoft's ongoing and active participation in TPC benchmarking," said Steve Murchie, SQL Server group product manager. "SQL Server 2000 satisfies TPC criteria while offering low-cost, virtually unlimited scale-out capabilities for the most demanding e-commerce environments."