Database vendors are all over 64-bit. Oracle Corp. and Computer Associates International Inc. on Tuesday embraced Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s release of its new 64-bit Opteron chip, with each company separately announcing support for the 64-bit architecture in their flagship databases. Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp. on Thursday is expected to announce support for 64-bit in SQL Server 2000, and IBM demonstrated DB2 for Linux running on Opteron at AMDs Tuesday launch of the chip.
Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., announced general availability of its Oracle9i database on Opteron running 32-bit Linux. Company officials said that support for 32-bit Linux and Windows will be available in coming months on Oracle9i Application Server, Oracle Collaboration Suite and Oracle E-Business Suite.
Oracle also announced that it has posted on its Oracle Technology Networka developer release of Oracle9i for 64-bit Linux on Opteron processors.
Opteron can be run on both 32-bit and 64-bit applications on a single platform, thus offering users an easy migration path, officials said. “Opteron gives customers the flexibility to start with a 32-bit stack without changing their investment,” said Brom Mahbod, vice president of Oracles Enterprise Platform Division. “When theyre ready with their internal applications, they can then migrate to 64-bit.”
“One thing thats unique to Opteron is that customers can get this increased performance just by installing Opteron 64-bit in the background, even running in 32-bit mode,” added Adele Evans, senior manager for Oracles Technology Group. “At their own pace they can migrate and take advantage of 64-bit computing. They can run 32-bit, get the performance gain at a good price, and when theyre ready they can migrate.”
Oracle officials said that internal testing of the Oracle9i database on Opteron running 32-bit Linux showed a performance gain of 10 to 15 percent compared with 32-bit support on two-processor systems running on chips similar to Intel Corp.s upcoming 3.06GHz Xeon chip.
Separately, CA, of Islandia, N.Y., announced general availability of its Advantage Ingres II relational database management system for the 64-bit Opteron processor.
Officials said that the move will quench customers thirst for more memory. “Now that AMD and Intel are getting into producing desktop PCs with 64-bit chips in them, we see a lot more interest, primarily because the cost of memory is very low,” said Emma McGrattan, divisional vice president of Ingres II.
Whereas Ingres previously has been limited to accessing 2 gigabytes of RAM, the database will now be able to chew on hundreds of gigabytes in cache. Indeed, CAs internal tests have shown performance enhancements of as much as a factor of 10, officials said. That will be a boon to enterprises that need to process huge volumes of data rapidly, as is the case with companies running business intelligence, customer relationship management and financial transaction operations, officials said.
Chip Nickolett, president of Comprehensive Consulting Solutions Inc., in Milwaukee, said that the time for an evolutionary leap in memory is now. “Its been the case of software not keeping up,” he said. “In the past there hasnt been a great need. If somebody had a 20- or 30-gigabyte database, that was big. Now thats common—were seeing 100-gigabyte-plus databases, and I expect that trend to continue.”
Ingres has also acquired utilities that allow memory to be automatically flushed from cache onto disk—a capability that Nickolett deemed a very big deal. “It now does a fast commit. Its faster and doesnt force the user to write down the modification to disk twice,” he said. “Its a very big deal. … Youll have more cache and be able to access it quicker. You may be only able to have a couple gig data cache, but with larger memory models, you could have 40 or 50 gigabytes in memory and be able to access it quicker.”
For its part, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., is expected to announce on Thursday support for 64-bit in SQL Server 2000. Users are grudgingly eager to try it out, saying theyve been waiting for it a rather long time.
“The move to a 64-bit architecture is a great one—even though its been far too long in coming,” said Steve Foote, a consultant with Enswers Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. “The code needed to be what is known as quad-word aligned in order to take full advantage of the 64-bit architecture benefits. Without quad-word aligning the code, it was only going to perform like it was running on a 32-bit chip.”
Foote said that SQL Server customers running query-intensive applications—lots of searching and sorting of data—will see the most benefit, since activities like searching—especially searching via indexes—and sorting of data will run “substantially faster.”
The only exception to that is for those applications that do a lot of full table scans, Foote said—queries that read literally every record in a table. Such queries are slowed by the need to constantly go back down to the physical disks to retrieve all the data.
But applications that are transaction-intensive will not see significant improvements, he said, since theyll still be slowed down by the need to write to physical disks.
For its part, IBM partnered with AMD and SuSE Linux to become the first large database vendor to deliver support for Opteron, delivering a beta for DB2 for Linux on Opteron in mid-April. The beta is available on IBMs site.
By summer, DB2 will support SuSE Linux and Opteron in clustered environments of between two- to 1,000-node Linux clusters at customer sites in the industries of finance, retail, oil and gas, and life sciences, according to IBM officials.
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