One of the more astonishing details to come out of the Bill Gates keynote during the launch of Windows 2000 last week was the announcement that Microsoft's upcoming SQL Server 2000 product had just set the world record in the industry-standard TPC-C benchmark, which is used to measure database server performance. But the new record, which was accomplished with a 12-system Compaq set up running Windows 2000, didn't just beat the record, it blew it away.

Previous to the Windows 2000/SQL Server 2000 tandem, the record holder was Oracle 8i running on a 96-processor clustered Solaris setup, which scored 135,815 tpmC. Using SQL Server 2000, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and 12 8-processor Compaq ProLiant servers, Compaq and Microsoft were able to score 227,079 tpmC, a whopping 68% improvement over the prior record. This score represents a volume 575 times larger than the combined transaction volumes of Amazon.com and eBay.

"The combination of Compaq ProLiant servers with Microsoft SQL Server and Windows 2000 is a clear winner for e-business customers," said Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Windows Division at Microsoft. "These results further prove that Compaq hardware and the Microsoft platform provide customers with a clear roadmap for almost unlimited Internet scalability."

What's even more amazing is how much less the Windows 2000-based solutions cost than their Unix rivals. The record-breaking setup, for example, costs only $19.12 per tpmC, compared to rates in the $50 range for Unix solutions.

Of course, the obvious question here revolves around the release date of SQL Server 2000, which is the follow-up to SQL Server 7.0, released last January. Microsoft says that the SQL Server 2000 Beta 2 release will occur in April. And Beta 2 will include a previously undisclosed feature called Distributed Partitioned Views, which was instrumental in helping SQL Server 2000 hit its record TPC-C score. SQL Server 2000 will be released sometime this summer