SQL Server 2008 RC0 was released to the public a couple of weeks ago, and we have been using it on a couple of Production servers for about three weeks. So far, I am pretty happy with RC0, especially compared with the February CTP (CTP6) that we were previously using.
We have RC0 running iFTS on a dedicated, standalone server (a Dell PowerEdge 1950 with one, quad-core Xeon 5450, 16GB of RAM, connected to our 3PAR S400 SAN). The FT Catalog is on a table with about 70 million rows of data that is very volatile (about 80-100 inserts/second and 70-90 deletes/second).
We have been doing quite a bit of testing on this server and I have noticed the following improvements in RC0:
We can have Auto Change Tracking enabled, and iFTS has absolutely no problem keeping up with our rate of data change.
So far, I have not had to do a single Master merge, and my FT Index fragment count has stayed very low.
In general, the amount of maintenance required to keep iFTS happy (Master merges, relational index reorganizations, etc), has been reduced to almost nothing.
With CTP6, I had to disable Auto Change Tracking (and have an Agent Job run a command to apply the pending updates) every five minutes. I also had to run nearly constant Master merges to keep the FT Index fragment count under control. I also had to spend a lot of server effort keeping the relational index fragmentation under control, and I had to be very careful that relational index reorganization jobs and FT Index Master merges never ran concurrently. It was a lot of administrative effort in CTP6, but this is dramatically improved in RC0 of SQL Server 2008.