IBM ‘goes nuclear’ in database stress test

When thinking of extreme examples of computing, it's fair to say that industry benchmark tests don't usually come very high up on most people's lists – unless you're thinking about the costs of setting up the machines, that is. The one-upmanship involved in these tests usually means vendors spending a small fortune fine-tuning their kit to run the benchmark tests – and not real-world applications.

But minor quibbles aside, IBM's latest set of TCP-C benchmarking results are truly astounding: one of its eServers, running its DB2 database was recorded processing over three million transactions per minute – 3.2 million to be precise. The previous record was a paltry 1.2 million transactions per minute.

To give this some context, most record-breaking performance improvements typically clock in around the 1% to 2% mark. In terms of the TCP-C arms race, IBM has gone nuclear.

Executives at IBM are, unsurprisingly, delighted. "This innovation empowers our clients to do even more sophisticated tasks at tremendous levels of efficiency," gushes Adalio Sanchez, general manager at IBM's eServer unit. And he has a point: the IBM server is built on 64 Power5 processors and ships as a commercial product.

But it's worth sounding a note of caution: TPC-C is an online transaction processing benchmark. It is not a production environment. And a quick Information Age straw poll to find some real-life examples of transaction workloads was instructive: The best we came up with was the US Postal Service mainframe, which at peak loads processes 41,000 transactions per minute.

Of course our quick survey was not comprehensive – if you know of any other systems that process more transactions per minute, drop us an email at

Alternatively, you may know of another exceptional IT project – the oldest legacy system, the most expensive server, the largest IT department or some other aspect of Extreme IT. Just let us know.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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