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MS SQL Server Steps Up

Delivering on the promise to vastly improve its database software, Microsoft unveiled sweeping enhancements to SQL Server 2005, including support for AMD's Opteron processors.

The company Monday pledged support for AMD Opteron chips with Direct Connect Architecture in Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Beta 2, calling the offering a complement to 64-bit Intel Itanium support in SQL Server 2000.

Microsoft is establishing 32- and 64-bit computing on its software in response to customers and partners at a time when demand for high-performance computing is growing. On the competitive front, Windows systems are intended as an alternative to Unix-based products made from the likes of Sun Microsystems.

In related news, AMD Monday said its Opteron chip will power the 4P Sun Fire V40z server as well as the 1P Sun Java workstation W1100z and 2P Sun Java workstation W2100z, from Sun Microsystems.

Microsoft also made several upgrades on its SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 at the behest of customers and partners, with a prevailing theme of integration to make the user experience more efficient.

In one significant tool, SQL Server Management Studio pulls together Enterprise Manager, Query Analyzer and Analysis Manager, as well as adds new support for SQL Server Reporting Services, Notification Services, XML and SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition.

According to a statement, SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 also features enhancements to Snapshot Isolation, Database Mirroring, Database Snapshots, partitioning and Service Broker to help developers build well-designed applications.

Also for developers, Beta 2 will include significant upgrades to the business intelligence "workbench," which has been named the Business Intelligence Development Studio. These perks include a single development environment for Data Transformation Services (DTS), Reporting Services, Data Mining and Analysis Services.

Going beyond the tight integration with Visual Studio and better business intelligence tools, SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 can handle T-SQL exception better and features enhanced XML support, tighter integration with the .NET Framework Common Language Runtime (CLR) and advanced messaging capabilities in Service Broker.

Microsoft also bolstered SQL Server 2005's Analysis Services with additional MDX expressions and new MDX script capabilities. And among the new data mining algorithms are a new Neural Network algorithm and a Text Mining feature for complicated analytical problems containing nonlinear relationships and unstructured data.

Meanwhile, DTS enhancements will provide extract, transform and load (ETL) capabilities out of the box and can parse Web services and XML sources, along with data cleansing, data mining and text mining.

As promised, SQL Server 2005 Beta 2 also now has database encryption and SQL Server Express, the evolution of Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) for SQL Server 2005.