Just left the final shiproom meeting for SQL Server 2008, and am happy to say every team has signed off, so the product is now in the hands of manufacturing, and in process toward web and media availability for you. We've shipped! MSDN and TechNet subscriber downloads are now live, with more to come.

It's been less than three years since SQL Server 2005, but we're pleased to give you a great new release of SQL Server which not only adds fantastic new capabilities to your data platform, but also delivers broadly better performance. We used new industry standard benchmark workloads, and customer workloads, to drive us toward delivering better real-world performance...and we didn't take the easy road.

The best example of that is our use of TPC-E, a far more modern, realistic, and challenging benchmark workload than its predecessor. We used TPC-E to improve the scalability of our relational engine, in ways that should be more relevant to your own OLTP database workloads. We're proud of partners, like IBM, NEC, and Unisys, who were able to demonstrate great scalability, up to 64 cores, using SQL Server 2008 running TPC-E, and like Fujitsu-Siemens and Dell, who have shown industry leading price/performance. Results like these should also be more useful for system sizing.

Almost five years of effort by TPC members were invested in the development of TPC-E, and it shows. The workload uses synthetic data which is far more realistic, by modeling real-world data. And compared to its antique predecessor, TPC-E's schema has ~3X more tables and primary keys, 2X as many columns, and 4X more foreign keys. And here's a radical thought for a modern OLTP benchmark workload: include check constraints, referential integrity, and reliable storage. Don't customers actually put DBMS servers into production expecting that?

Because we believe so strongly TPC-E drives us to better meet your needs, I am announcing today this is the first release of SQL Server which will not include published TPC-C benchmark results. Like other great thoroughbreds, TPC-C had a great run, and we were proud to ride it while it was still relevant to customers. But today, we're turning that great old race horse out to pasture for a well-deserved rest.

In SQL Server 2008, we have also invested lots of effort to improve our data warehousing performance, and the performance of our BI services. SSIS, SSRS, and SSAS, each show many double-digit gains in performance, which we hope you will enjoy. The new world record we set with SSIS, loading 1 TB of data in under 30 minutes, gives you a sense of this commitment to BI performance. We are also proud of our first-ever TPC-H 10 TB result.

There are a couple other ways in which this release improves on our past work. First, we've focused more energy on improving 64-bit SQL Server's performance on x64 AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon architectures. Given the price and density of RAM, and great new x64 CPUs available, this is a perfect time to take a closer look at the performance of your database servers, and consider doing fresh deployments, or migrations, on x64 SQL Server, which can use the additional RAM for everything, not just the buffer cache. Second, we invested more heavily in performance regression testing, both in automation and in the breadth of our test coverage. These investments have been reflected in broadly positive feedback from the community as well as internal and external beta sites. While we'll always have more to do, we feel this release marks an important step forward.

Welcome to the beginning of a new era for SQL Server. We hope you enjoy working with SQL Server 2008 and look forward to your feedback.

-David Powell
SQL Performance Engineering