At the SQL PASS Conference this week in Seattle, Microsoft announced that it will soon deliver a third Community Technical Preview (CTP) pre-release version of its upcoming SQL Server 2008 R2 database server, then deliver the final version in the first half of 2010. The SQL Server 2008 CTP is due sometime in November, the company said.

SQL Server 2008 R2 is an update to the well received SQL Server 2008 product, and it comes with numerous enhancements, including new platform support for Windows Server 2008 R2 that dramatically improves its scalability and performance. The SQL Server R2 release also includes new tools for developers and administrators, and integrates with Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to provide information workers with new business intelligence functionality.

Microsoft also announced that it's expanding the SQL Server product lineup to include a new SQL Server R2 Datacenter version for enterprise-class solutions that require massive scalability and a new SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse version aimed at customers that have data warehousing needs with tens to hundreds of terabytes of data.

Finally, Microsoft also revealed that SQL Server 2008 R2 has set new world records in several industry benchmarks. These include the TPC-E and TPC-H benchmarks, first utilization of a 96-core server, and the Microsoft Dynamics CRM benchmark.