Percona curbs MySQL memory hunger

Percona's enhanced MySQL MEMORY storage engine can accept any data type, paving the way for use of more efficient data types

Percona has updated its version of MySQL so that the software's storage engine consumes less working memory, potentially increasing its suitability for tasks requiring an in-memory database, the company announced Friday.

The in-memory storage engine of Percona Server 5.5.15 now can hold all MySQL data types, including the previously unsupported BLOB and TEXT data types, which could also broaden its appeal to large-scale Web services companies.

If a deployment "has very small memory tables, [this version] may save a few megabytes of memory. It's no big deal. But if you are using tens or hundreds of gigabytes of data in memory, that is where you will find that our changes have an advantage," said Percona founder and CEO Peter Zaitsev.

Founded in 2006, Percona bills itself as the largest and oldest independent MySQL services vendor outside of Oracle. Internet-facing companies such as GroupOn, RightNow, Answer.Com, 37Signals and the British Broadcasting Corporation have availed themselves of Percona's services. Percona Server is an open source version of MySQL with a number of enhancements for production use. Percona sells support for the server.

For this release, the company modified the MySQL MEMORY storage engine, which was designed to store database tables in a server's working memory, eliminating the need to write each change to a disk, which can slow transaction speeds. For jobs such as hosting a website, MySQL Memory can significantly speed response times.

A number of limitations have hobbled the basic version of MySQL MEMORY, Zaitsev said. Most notably, MEMORY (formerly known as HEAP) can work only with a subset of data types allowable in MySQL, notably only those with fixed lengths.

With fixed-length data types, each entry to the database will be stored in an identically sized storage block. Because most entries won't use all the space in their storage blocks, this approach is inherently inefficient, due to all empty space it creates. "For many problems, you have to store strings of different lengths," Zaitsev said.

On disk drives, where space is relatively cheap, this waste is not a huge deal. On the more expensive RAM, however, such waste is costly.

Percona Server 5.5.15, which is based on MySQL 5.5.15, comes with an enhanced version of MySQL MEMORY that can work with any MySQL data type, including variable-length data types such as BLOB and TEXT.

EBay principal developer Igor Chernyshev first developed this technology in 2008, in order to improve memory usage for that company's services. His version allowed entries encoded in the VARCHAR data type to be stored at their natural lengths, rather than at a larger fixed length. Percona then added support for the TEXT and BLOB data types, both of which can be used to store large strings of text.

How much memory this version will save will vary greatly from one implementation to another, Zaitsev said. It could cut as much memory requirements by as much half or even more, on the data types formerly used. It also opens the use of in-memory databases to organizations that only use variable-length data types before, and were not willing to convert the data to a fixed-length data type.

In-memory databases are growing increasingly popular as more organizations set up Web-facing or real-time systems, which need to be as responsive as possible. Oracle's TimesTen, SAP's HANA database and VoltDB all serve this market as well.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourcedatabasesapplicationssoftwarePerconaOracle

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?