Woz Watches Over Fusion-io’s UK SQL Coding Battle

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Steve Wozniak was the big draw as SQL programmers met in Brighton to vie for Fusion’s Golden Plunger Award

Solid-state storage maker Fusion-io chose Brighton for culmination of its first phase in its battle to win hearts and minds in the cause of flash ,emory. The Crappy Code Games is a head-to-head competition to see which SQL programmer can create code to show off the high transaction rates achievable with Fusion-io’s products.

The main attraction was not so much the games themselves as the presence of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, now chief scientist for Fusion-io, who oversaw the four-part competition to choose the best SQL coder in Britain. Following qualifying rounds in Manchester and London, the dbA-coding quadrathletes met for their showdown at Brighton’s Grand Hotel in the Crappy Code Games Grand Final.

Flash Will Supplant Primary Hard Drives

David Flynn and Steve Wozniak

“In time NAND memory will replace hard drives as primary storage,” David Flynn, Fusion-io CEO, told eWEEK Europe. It takes up less space, uses less power, produces less heat, has no mechanical parts and transfers data faster. Most applications are sloppily written because they are geared to slow disk drive transactions. Flash removes this bottleneck and releases the true power of the servers’ processors.”

The Crappy Code tag was chosen to emphasise the fact that SQL code written to work with current database storage systems can still benefit from NAND flash storage memory,

The aim of the games was to show how this raw power can be expressed in transactional terms and the four categories that the dbA-thletes had to tackle were:

  • The High Jump: The highest input/output (I/O) rate measured in pages read per second.
  • The 100m Dash: The highest I/O throughput measured in pages read over one minute
  • The Marathon: The highest transaction rate measured in transactions per minute
  • The SSIS-athon: The fastest Fact Table Inflation to reach a billion records

The competitors worked on a state-of-the-art Intel i5Sandy Bridge workstation running SQL Server 2008R2 with Hyper-V connected to a 1.28TB Fusion ioDrive Duo. The competition was monitored by SQL experts Matthew Steven and Simon Sabin on Fusion’s ioSphere management dashboard.

Winner of the games’ top prize, The Golden Plunger, was architect Gordon Byers who achieved 935,197 transactions per minute. Second place went to SQL consultant Konstantin Shapkin for achieving 10,538,499 reads of 8,000 pages in 60 seconds. The third place prize was awarded to database architect Mike Knee for inflating a fact table to one billion rows in one minute and twenty-five seconds.

Byers was presented with his award by Wozniak who declared, “Since Fusion’s ioMemory unlocks database performance by giving servers direct access to critical data, programmers can finally find and purge the Crappy Code that’s clogging up their systems.”

In addition to the Golden Plunger, other prizes included a day trip in a high performance aircraft, a high-speed performance car racing experience, and an automotive racing facility party package.

Third-prize winner Knee said, “The result I achieved… was an order of magnitude different from what I have achieved before,” said Knee. “[Normally] When we hit bottlenecks, everything grinds to a halt. This is a whole new lease on database life.”

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