Microsoft and Compaq announced in October that they had set a new TPC-C benchmark record with SQL Server 2000, scoring the highest-ever recorded throughput while posting one of the best price-to-performance ratios. The new record, 505,302.77 transactions per minute (tpmC), pummels the previous record of 440,879, held by IBM. SQL Server 2000 achieved this score at a cost of only $20.68 per transaction. (IBM's solution cost $32.28 per transaction.) This latest score comes only a few months after IBM posted its record, which almost doubled Microsoft's previous best score.

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To obtain these results, Microsoft and Compaq set up a cluster of 24 ProLiant 8500 servers, each with eight 700MHz Pentium III Xeon microprocessors, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and SQL Server 2000. The Compaq setup featured newer hardware—such as 15,000rpm SCSI Ultra 3 drives—than IBM's entry, which also ran on Win2K AS. Compaq also used more processors—a total of 192—than the IBM setup, which used 128 CPUs.

Regardless of who currently holds the top benchmark score, these latest scores prove the theory of shared-nothing clustering. The top five TPC-C benchmark scores were all achieved on shared-nothing clusters, in which each server manages its own local storage and RAM. All of the top five TPC-C benchmark results were run on Win2K AS systems; four were obtained with Compaq hardware, and four used SQL Server 2000 as the database.

The total cost of the Compaq cluster, which was due to become available in late November, is less than $10.5 million. This price includes the servers, each outfitted with 1GB of RAM, and 48 client machines, which featured 800MHz Pentium III processors and 512MB of RAM; the clients ran Win2K Server. The price also includes almost 300 hot-pluggable, rack-mounted hard drives and 48 sixteen-way switches. The price also includes Microsoft's software licenses and 3 years of support from Compaq. A 144-page auditor's report about the Compaq/Microsoft setup is available on the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) website.