RealTime IT News

PostgreSQL 8.3 Gets HOT

Speed is important in all aspects of computing, especially with databases.

The latest 8.3 release of the open source PostgreSQL database has speed and a kind of heat of its own in mind. It's HOT, literally.

HOT is an acronym for Heap Organized Tuples (HOT),but according to PostgreSQL Core Team member Josh Berkus HOT in a word means performance. HOT is a key feature that PostgreSQL had on its to do list for 8.3 since the 8.2 release was finalized a year ago.

"It improves greatly throughput for database applications with frequently updated data, as well as improves response time consistency for most database applications," Berkus told Internenews.com. "For specific types of applications with a very high degree of data contention, performance improvements are up to 300 percent. For most applications, it's more like 20-30 percent."

Beyond HOT there are a few other key highlights of the PostgreSQL 8.3 release including XML, full text search, and enumerated data type support improvements. There are also improvements to support data warehouses and the new release also has improved self-tuning features.

PostgreSQL has also changed the way it puts together its Windows version. PostgreSQL has been steadily improving its Windows versions since at least 2005 with the release of PostgreSQL 8.1.

"We've also moved to MS Visual C++ for Windows builds," Berkus commented. "While this was done primarily to improve performance and stability on Windows, I also hope that it inspires a few Windows developers to become code contributors."

PostgreSQL's new release comes as one its main benefactors, Sun Microsystems is in the process of acquiring the open source MySQL database for $1 billion.

Berkus is also a Sun Microsystems employee where he holds the role of PostgreSQL Lead. Sun has been backing PostgreSQL strongly since at least 2006. For the 8.3 release Berkus noted that his team at sun was working mostly on the Solaris build and compatibility issues.

"My team at Sun is working on stuff for 8.4, such as more SMP scaling (to 64 cores) and upgrade-in-place, but their wasn't ready in time for the May 2007 code cutoff for 8.3," Berkus commented. "So the largest chunk of code going into 8.3 was from EnterpriseDB."

Bruce Momjian, senior database architect, EnterpriseDB, and PostgreSQL Community Leader told InternetNews.com that for PostgreSQL 8.3 EnterpriseDB dedicated a team of developers on three continents to work on the project.. The plan is to do the same for 8.4.

With Sun's purchase of open source database rival MySQL now in motion, neither Berkus nor Momjian see much impact, yet.

"It's early days yet," Berkus said. "So far, the only thing we've done is to pick a common demo database to use with PostgreSQL, MySQL and Derby."

From Momjian's point of view he noted that EnterpriseDB has not seen much market demand for more compatibility or migration efforts with MySQL.

"In fact, the market demand for PostgreSQL seems to grow every month," Momjian commented.

With the 8.3 release out the door developers are now looking toward the 8.4 release. According to Berkus, one of the items that might end up being included is PL/PSM which is a procedural language directly compatible with IBM DB2 and MySQL. Additionally Berkus noted that hot standby databases as well as greater SMP scalability up to 64 cores might end up in the 8.4 release as well.

All told though, Momjian noted that the PostgreSQL TODO list is still the same size as it was following the 8.3 release.

"We plan to keep looking for things that will further cement PostgreSQL as a world-class, enterprise-ready database," Momjian said. "There is no question 8.3 has taken us farther in that direction."