Microsoft's problems with the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) notwithstanding, another rival eclipsed Microsoft's TPC-C record without any help from Oracle. In early July, IBM announced that it shattered the TPC-C database benchmark record with a stunning score of 440,879.95 transactions per minute (tpmC), almost double that of the recently dethroned SQL Server 2000 and triple that of the previous champ, Oracle 8i. IBM's DB2 7.1, running on Windows 2000 Advanced Server, accomplished this feat at a cost of only $32.28 per transaction, lending credence to the company's shared-nothing design, which IBM says increases performance without dramatically raising costs. Oracle 8i 2.0, running on a cluster of four Solaris servers, achieved 135,461.4 tpmC at a cost of $97.10 per transaction.

"Systems that size are not just a marketing fantasy," said TPC's Francois Raab, who created the TPC-C benchmark and audited the IBM test. "Clusters can almost scale to the moon, and cost is the only limit. Gigantic systems can be built from commodity components, and large commodity cluster configurations are quite reliable. IBM does not intend to lose an inch of ground in the performance battle."

IBM's efforts almost came to naught when the TPC disqualified the previous record by SQL Server 2000, which omitted the required updateable primary key feature; DB2 also lacked the updateable primary key feature. But after learning about Oracle's protest to the TPC (for more information, see "TPC Overturns SQL Server Benchmark Record"), IBM integrated code from a future release of DB2 that enabled this benchmark component to perform correctly. This updateable primary key feature will now see the light of day in an update to DB2 7.1 due later this year.