Enterprise Users Prepare to Tap 64-Bit Databases

Microsoft, Oracle and IBM ready upgrades supporting new chips.

Enterprise users are eagerly anticipating 64-bit versions of their relational database software to take advantage of the greater throughput and increased memory support that comes with new 64-bit chips.

Microsoft Corp. is accelerating the release of a 64-bit version of its SQL Server database so that it coincides with the release of the companys Windows .Net Server, which is due to ship to manufacturing by years end. The upgrade originally was due to follow the 64-bit server software by 30 to 45 days.

The Redmond, Wash., company this month will put out a second beta of 64-bit SQL Server that will be optimized to work with Intel Corp.s 1GHz Itanium 2 chip.

Oracle Corp., of Redwood Shores, Calif., is working to support the Itanium 2 by the end of the year for Linux and HP-UX, with Windows following once Microsoft releases .Net Server, Oracle officials said. Oracle is evaluating whether to support systems using Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron chip, which is due in the first half of next year.

IBM, which supported Intels first 64-bit Itanium chip in its DB2 Universal Database, plans to offer 64-bit support in Version 8 of the database on Windows and Linux. The Itanium 2 and AMDs Opteron will be supported. DB2 Version 8 is due by April.

The additional memory support in the 64-bit versions is important for Darrell Starnes, deputy CIO at Ashford.com Inc., a subsidiary of GSI Commerce Inc., of King of Prussia, Pa.

Starnes said he expects initially to consider a 64-bit version of SQL Server to help perform more complicated data analysis faster in the companys SQL Server-based data warehouse.

"SQL Server today is a little limited in its memory and how much RAM I can access. With the 64-bit versions, we shouldnt have any more memory problems," Starnes said.

DB2 user Tim Kuchlein is looking forward to 64-bit support for Linux in DB2 to help him maintain high database performance at Clarity Payment Solutions Inc., which issues and processes debit card information.

Kuchlein, director of IS at New York-based Clarity, already is close to reaching the memory limit on DB2 running Linux on 32-bit processors. The company stores most of its data in memory to beef up searching performance, such as during debit card authorizations.

"If you go to the 64-bit version, then you can continue to buy machines with more memory on them than you actually have in data. Today were hitting toward the practical limitations of the operating system," Kuchlein said.

"The 64-bit [database] will be the area where youll see phenomenal performance gains," said Gordon Mangione, vice president of SQL Server for Microsoft. "The big win is the amount of memory were going to have access to."