Starfire Has Record-Breaking TPC-C Run

September 8, 2000

NEWS BRIEFS

Palo Alto, CALIF. — Flexing the muscle that has made it the undisputed champion of the high-end UNIX server realm, Sun Microsystems, Inc. announced that a Sun Enterprise 10000 server smashed the world record for single-system performance on the TPC-C benchmark by registering 156,873.03 transactions per minute (tpmC) running Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) at a very economical $48.81 price/tpmC. Continuing its longtime performance leadership, the Sun Enterprise 10000 server, popularly known as the Starfire server, has set or reset 40 benchmark records in its storied four-year history.

According to International Data Corp., the Starfire accounted for 51 percent of the high-end UNIX servers shipped in the first quarter of calendar year 2000. In stark contrast, IBM accounted for a meager 5 percent of shipments during that same period and Hewlett-Packard 23 percent. Unequaled scalability and abundant RAS features, such as Dynamic System Domains, Inter Domain Networking, dynamic reconfiguration and alternate pathing, have kept Sun’s flagship server in a league of its own.

As the latest TPC-C results demonstrate, performance also places high on the list of Starfire server attributes. A 64-way Starfire actually has a rating of 3,150 Mainframe Equivalent MIPS, nearly double that of the archaic S/390 but at roughly half the cost.

The unique combination of performance, scalability and partitioning characteristics make the Starfire especially well-suited for OLTP, e-commerce, decision support, database hosting and business analytics. This multidimensional server has also established itself as a premier server consolidation platform.

Recently, the TPC-C benchmark has fallen under sharp criticism for failing to keep pace with the times. Two separate cluster results reported by IBM and Compaq confirm that it can no longer be trusted as an accurate measuring for ad-hoc workloads.

It’s well-understood in the technical communities that TPC-C no longer represents current customer workloads since the transaction load that its models are made of are small, primitive and disconnected transactions. While this model was acceptable for the workloads of the late 1980s, it misses the mark for the object-based, integrated application environments of today’s dot-com world that are part of the system design criteria at Sun.

Customer workloads nowadays require a more ad hoc workload than the TPC-C specifies. This is why many customers compare systems using more complicated transactional workloads such as SAP-sales and distribution, SAP-banking, SAP-retail, Peoplesoft, or Amdocs billing. Areas in which Sun has excelled and maintains an industry-leading position.

The simple nature of TPC-C transactions makes them well-suited to partitioning database tables across multiple systems as epitomized by cluster results on IBM’s 32-node Netfinity System and others. This is possible because over 99 percent of TPC-C transactions are localized, while in the real world of customer environments almost no transactions are localized.

Sun’s results are particularly impressive because they demonstrate excellent performance for local and remote transactions, as well as small and complex transaction in a single system. At the same time, Sun’s broad range of products can neatly address all workloads.

Shahin Khan, Sun’s vice president of product marketing and planning, noted that despite TPC-C deficiencies and loopholes that can be easily exploited, customers still expect Sun to produce against the benchmark because of the company’s leadership position.

Benchmarks aside, Sun points to its unmatched market share and brisk sales as the absolute indicators of success. To that end, the company surpassed the $5 billion quarterly revenue mark for the first time ever in its reported results for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2000, which ended on June 30, 2000.

“The real litmus test is sales volume, and in the high-end UNIX platform space we’ve been gobbling IBM and HP’s lunch on our way to dessert,” quipped Khan. “The numbers don’t lie. And while our competitors are nursing their Y2K hangovers, we’ve been busy installing Starfire servers all over the planet. It’s evident that we’ve struck the right chord with customers, who are validating en masse our clean and clear server strategy – one architecture, one operating system and one instruction set across the board.”

Established by the Transaction Processing Council, the TPC-C benchmark is an industry-standard test designed to measure systems’ online transaction processing capacity under controlled conditions.

On the TPC-C benchmark, Sun’s flagship Starfire server delivered 156,873.03 transactions per minute (tpmC) running Sybase ASE and a highly competitive price/performance mark of $48.81 price/tpmC. The system, running Sybase release 12.0.0.2 and the Solaris 7 Operating Environment, was configured for this benchmark with 64 UltraSPARC II 400 MHz CPUs, each with a 8 MB external cache, and 64 GB of internal memory combined with 36 StorEdge A5200 disk arrays and eight Sun StorEdge T3 disk arrays totaling 15.5 TB of storage. The configuration is scheduled to be available February 28, 2001.

A full disclosure report and executive summary are available through the TPC Web site located at http://www.tpc.org .

The Sun Enterprise 10000, or Starfire, server provides up to 64 processors and 16 Dynamic System Domains; Sun is the only UNIX platform vendor to offer these features. The Starfire server enables customers to run the most demanding, multi-terabyte applications for data warehousing, decision support, online transaction processing and data analytics on a single, scalable server.

The system hosts more than 12,700 applications for the Solaris Operating Environment software and can be clustered with up to four nodes for even greater uptime. The Sun Enterprise 1000 server contains up to 64 GB of share memory and can support more than 60 TB of storage to confidently handle extreme data warehousing situations.

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