Database Lets Systems Scale

A select group of enterprises running memory-hungry applications are welcoming the arrival late last month of a 64-bit database from Microsoft Corp.

A select group of enterprises running memory-hungry applications are welcoming the arrival late last month of a 64-bit database from Microsoft Corp.

SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) runs on 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003. Officials at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., cited Transaction Processing Performance Council results that ranked the database running with Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition as No. 1 in two benchmarks.

The recent releases of Intel Corp.s Itanium 2 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron 64-bit processors are making it more affordable to scale applications without having to build out clusters, Microsoft officials said.

Liberty Medical, a PolyMedica Corp. company, is typical of the type of company that will benefit from running SQL Server databases in a 64-bit environment. Liberty Medical has been testing 64-bit SQL Server 2000 to evaluate its potential to process orders that come in by phone or the Web.

An e-commerce setup such as Liberty Medical requires ample RAM to accommodate the large numbers of concurrent users who access the Web site to research or order products. SQL Server 2000 for 64-bit has been tested with 512GB of addressable memory spaceā€”a considerable boost from the 4GB that Microsoft officials considered the threshold for a large data set prior to 64-bit.

"We hadnt run into a problem yet, so we werent in the market for another architecture," said John Hegner, vice president of technology services at Liberty Medical, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. "But we knew if we grew the business as it is growing, it would come to a grinding halt."

The results were gratifying: Benchmarks from the 64-bit SQL Server test showed that jobs that once took more than 4 hours to run took 20 minutes on the 64-bit configuration. Liberty Medical is definitely looking to convert to a 64-bit architecture, Hegner said.

"The appeal then is we can grow our business without having to redo our database or without having to consider alternate architectures," Hegner said.

But for users who dont need to feed memory-hogging applications or for budget-challenged companies, 64-bit has slim appeal. "Were more interested in features related to making development easier to do and faster and better than we are in the actual performance of the database server," said Daniel Mross, database administrator II at FreeMarkets Inc., in Pittsburgh. "SQL Server 2000 performs just fine for our needs on 32-bit."