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ES40 6/833 bangs more per buck

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The initial benchmark results materialised on the www.spec.org Web site in June 2000, then mysteriously disappeared shortly after Labor Day only to make a second coming two months later. On February 12, Compaq finally announced the AlphaServer ES40 6/833 quadprocessor server.

Powered by what the firm called the industry's most powerful microprocessor, an 833MHz, 0.18u Alpha EV68 chip sporting 8MB of L2 cache, the turbocharged ES40 enabled early adopter Celera Genomics to realize a 72 percent performance improvement on proprietary benchmarks run on earlier 667MHz EV67-Inside ES40 systems.

The 833MHz ES40 also opened a can of whoop-ass on the SAP Business Information Warehouse benchmark by setting a new record for midrange systems. In addition, the ES40 6/833 set a new record for the Oracle Applications Benchmark, offering up to twice the performance of competitive midrange systems.

Mo' Midrange Momentum for Alpha

Maintaining momentum in the midrange benchmarketing wars, Compaq on February 26 fired another salvo from its 833 MHz Alpha artillery piece by announcing that an ES40 6/833 quadprocessor configured with 32GB of memory, the Tru64 UNIX V5.1 OS, Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise 12.0.0.3, and the Compaq DB Web Connector transaction monitor posted TPC benchmark results of 37,274 tpmC at $19.11/tpmC.

Compaq generally uses Oracle as its database of choice when conducting TPC benchmarks, but the decision to use Sybase for the ES40 6/833 time trials yielded superior performance and price-performance: Not only did the latest ES40 quadprocessor-which is equipped with the fastest currently-shipping Alpha CPUs-set a new speed record for midrange servers, the system became the first RISC/Unix server to come in under the $20 per tpmC price point.

Do the Math

The new TPC results reassert Compaq's Alpha bragging rights and highlight the substantial price and price-performance benefits of the 833MHz EV68 processor. Just one year ago, an EV67-based AlphaServer ES40 6/667 posted results of 30,738 tpmC at $29.48/tpmC. Accordingly, the AlphaServer ES40 6/833 is almost 25 per cent faster-yet costs about one-third less on a $/tpmC basis-than its predecessor.

The 833MHz system also turned in better performance than Compaq's fastest Pentium III Xeon-based ProLiant 8500 6/700 quadprocessor, and totally eclipsed the 32,515 tpmC at $51.95/tpmC attained by an AlphaServer GS60E 6/700 eight-CPU system less than two years ago.

An ES40 8/333 uniprocessor with 4GB of memory lists for ~$92K. Additional CPUs are $16.5K; 4GB memory boards cost ~$51K. Equipped with four CPUS and 32GB of memory, the system goes for ~$500K. With additional storage, the TPC test system cost about $743K.

SKC believes the latest ES40 will prove to be very popular as a general-purpose midrange RISC server and as an HPTC building block as well. The AlphaServer ES40 6/833 played a key role in Compaq's effort to wrest the APAC National Facility supercomputer contract away from original winning bidder Sun Microsystems after Sun's Starfire servers failed their acceptance tests at the APAC campus in Canberra, Australia.

An AlphaServer SC supercomputer cluster comprising some 120 ES40 nodes will be operational in April; when upgraded with ~1GHz processors in October the APAC cluster will rank among the top 60 of the world's most powerful computing systems while serving as the largest supercomputer available to Australian researchers and industry. ®

This article first appeared in Shannon Knows Compaq, which owns the copyright. SKC is a fortnightly newsletter, and is available for a one-year, minimum-24-issue and costs $450 outside of the United States. Multiple-copy discounts, electronic distribution, and site licenses are available. Excellent for Alpha info.

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