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Object database touts performance leap

Posted: 20 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded database? embedded databases? db4objects? Java program? Java programs?

db4o, an open-source object-oriented database that targets embedded applications, is claiming a significant performance gain and reduced memory consumption in a new release. The improvements open the door to a wider range of applications, according to db4objects Inc., the company that develops, supports and commercially licenses the database.

Created in 2000, db4o serves Java and .NET programmers. It's found in such applications as cars, trains, airplanes, photocopiers, smart phones and packaged software products. The database now claims some 15,000 registered users, nearly a million downloads, and 200 commercial customers in 30 countries. db4objects was founded in 2004 to support the database.

The new db4o 6.0 release is up to 10 times faster and uses up to 90 percent less memory than the previous version 5, said Christof Wittig, CEO of db4objects. These gains, he said, will take the database into new horizons. "We believe we will have a much larger target audience in the mobile space, and we'll see smaller device platforms looking into db4o," he said.

The db4o database provides an alternative to object-relational mappers, which convert Java or .NET objects for compatibility with a relational database management system. Even before the new version, db4o claimed to run much faster than these mappers, due to db4o's ability to story objects exactly as they're represented in the native application.

The 10-fold performance and memory gains are best-case situations, Wittig acknowledged. In some examples, he said, the new version was 2 or 3 times faster than the previous version. "The larger your database, the better the performance benefits," he said.

In most benchmarks run by the company, memory consumption for version 6.0 was constant at 3Mbytes, down from 27Mbytes in version 5.

The performance and memory improvements, Wittig said, are due to a new B-tree index architecture. This new architecture improves the database's client-server capability, because the B-trees reduce transfers of data between the client and the server, Wittig said. As a result, a new "server side cursor technology" speeds deterministic response times during queries in client/server multi-user environments.

Version 6.0 of db4o also provides an improved .NET API, eliminating some of the Java naming conventions of previous releases. It promises faster defragmentation than previous versions, with early tests showing a 10-fold speedup, according to Wittig. The new release also offers an updated replication system and a new GUI object manager.

The improvements to db4o were a community effort. Db4objects plans its product roadmap collaboratively in public, and users contribute code, ideas, bug fixes, and documentation. "This is really a community driven release, and it's directly attributed to community input," Wittig said.

db4o version 6.0 is available on line in a beta version now. It's available under the GNU Public License (GPL) for evaluation, non-profit, academic, and in-house use. db4objects offers commercial licenses for companies who wish to embed db4o into products for redistribution, and require direct support.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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