SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 adds Opteron support

Microsoft announced on Monday that it would add support for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD) Opteron to its next release of SQL Server, due out in 2005, providing customers with simultaneous 32- and 64-bit computing. The company also announced the release of the second beta version of SQL Server 2005.

For Tim Kelly, distributed technology director with TSYS, having support for 64-bit computing will provide more options for his company to fully realize 64-bit processing. TSYS, which is a third-party credit card processor, is looking for performance increases with SQL Server’s next major release, Kelly said.

"We will see a fantastic performance increase especially with things like manipulating large data sets, queries … all the type of day-to-day, mundane database tasks that normally require a certain amount of time. These machines with these combinations are blowing those time frames out of the water," he explained.

As a SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 tester, he said the company had been looking for extended 64-bit compatibility in the next release, but wasn’t hearing a lot of talk about it from Microsoft so it assumed that would not be included. Kelly admitted that 64-bit is not being realized completely within TSYS, similar to many organizations, because key pieces of the operating system and other systems don’t yet support it -- but the pieces are starting to come together, he added.

"We can run all the 32-bit apps great today, but when you start to hit those points when you want to see the full 16G bytes of RAM, I want to see 64-bit .Net interpreters running -- that’s the cross road," he said.

Along with the support for AMD's Opteron, Kelly said database mirroring is another important piece of functionality being offering up in the next release that will help TSYS keep running, even if it loses a link to a data center, he said.

In the latest update to SQL Server 2005 Beta 2, Microsoft also announced that beta testers will have access to a number of enhancements across the entire release that are geared toward enterprise data management, developer productivity and business intelligence.

For example, developer productivity tools in the Beta2 update will include enhancements to the business intelligence development studio, or workbench, including Visual Studio 2005 integration and programmability enhancements such as enhanced XML support, advanced messaging capabilities and tighter integration with Microsoft .Net Framework Common Language Runtime (CLR).

The CLR enhancement is going to be the biggest change that SQL users will see, along with management tools, said Greg Robidoux, president of Edgewood Solutions. Edgewood is a consulting company for SQL Server.

"The CLR will allow people to embed more functionality on the database layer, where a lot of that processing is either now done on the middle layer or the client layer. That will add a lot of value to companies to be able to add procedural logic on SQL server," he said.

Robidoux said the 64-bit won’t be something that catches on quickly. He said while it’s great functionality, he doesn’t see it as being a main player right now.

"I think the way AMD's Opteron chip is set, it's easier to move from 32- to 64- bit. It is going to be a nice stepping stone for people to deploy at 32-bit and then eventually move into 64-bit architecture," he said. "People are looking at 64-bit, but it’s not one of the big things they are looking for." He added that 64-bit is still lacking management and GUI tools.

Many of his customers are still using older versions of SQL Server, and would have to look at making some major changes, including hardware purchases, before being able to adopt SQL Server 2005 and 64-bit processing.

SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 will be available to enterprise, universal and professional MSDN subscribers for download on Monday, Microsoft said.

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