My March 8 commentary, "Benchmark Results and Ketchup," explored the link between waiting for SQL Server's next benchmark record and the old Carly Simon-Heinz Ketchup anthem: "Anticipation . . . anticipa-a-tion . . . it's making me wait . . ." To fully understand the link between SQL Server and Heinz's tasty tomato condiment, read my original commentary.

This week, I revisit the ketchup analogy in honor of SQL Server's newest SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) score. On March 26, Unisys announced that a 24-processor Unisys e-@ction Enterprise Server ES7000 achieved a new world record for mySAP.com performance on a Windows-based server, supporting 14,400 mySAP.com SD benchmark users. This score tops the 10,400-user score that a 16-CPU ES7000 achieved several weeks ago.

"We achieved 38 percent performance improvement with a 50 percent increase in the number of processors on the database server used in our earlier SAP SD benchmark configuration," said Mark Feverston, vice president of Unisys Server Programs. "That's excellent multiprocessor scalability. The data provide objective proof that the economic advantages of servers based on Unisys, Microsoft, and Intel technology are squarely in a performance neighborhood that was once the exclusive province of costlier UNIX/RISC-based solutions." To read the full press release, visit the Unisys Web site.

The ES7000, which is nothing short of a WinTel mainframe, is destined to become Microsoft's UNIX slayer. But we still haven't seen its true power as a SQL Server database platform. The best SQL Server scores posted on the ES7000 have been limited to 24 processors that use an older generation of 700MHz Intel chips. Unisys says that we'll soon see 32-CPU scores for the SAP SD benchmark as well as the Transaction Processing Performance Council's (TPC's) TPC-C benchmark; 32-CPU scores using the newest and fastest Intel processors can't be far behind. I have no doubt that single-node SMP WinTel servers are within striking distance of the world's fastest single-node UNIX SMP servers. When single-node SMP WinTel systems overcome their UNIX nemisis, no one will argue that SQL Server isn't a world-class enterprise database platform, regardless of an organization's size or complexity.

I've anticipated 16- and 32-way benchmark scores for months—since last summer's release of SQL Server 2000. Bit by bit, SQL Server systems are closing the gap with the "world's fastest" 64-CPU UNIX database servers. Unquestionably, 32-CPU SQL Server 2000 benchmarks running on WinTel mainframes will be an important milestone in the quest for single-server performance parity. Will the gap close completely when someone finally publishes 32-CPU scores? Perhaps not, but the gap is closing awfully fast. I can't wait to see those 32-CPU scores. But like I've said before, anticipation is half the fun.