Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Has Ingres raised the stakes of the game?

This blog has looked at how gaming can be applied to enterprises, primarily from a user interface and functionality perspective. However, I just ran across something that looked at enterprise applications of gaming technologies from the processing perspective.

And I didn't read about this one in the Oracle AppsLab blog.

Oracle competitor Ingres is promoting a new application called Ingres VectorWise. Ingres is saying the following:

Ingres VectorWise is the next generation of analytic database technology. Ingres VectorWise unlocks the power of modern commodity CPUs with a revolutionary database engine that leverages vector-based processing and on-chip memory to provide dramatic 10x - 70x performance gains over other databases.

When Charles Babcock wrote about this in InformationWeek, he characterized the VectorWise advance as follows:

Ingres has launched a new kind of analytics database system, Ingres VectorWise, that it says cuts in half the time needed to process complex queries. It does so by understanding and exploiting the capabilities of the latest generation of computer chips in a manner similar to the game software.


[VectorWise] takes advantage of the parallel processing capabilities built into the latest generation of commodity, x86 architecture chips....

VectorWise taps the chips' ability to process an instruction along with multiple streams of data, called Single Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD), and Streaming SIMD Extensions, which allows the processing of SIMD-type instructions with greater parallelism, according to an Ingres/Intel joint white paper. In doing so, the new system, can process 1,000 rows at a time where an OLTP database would process one.

Game machines take advantage of this array processing and parallel processing in order to show the complex backgrounds and vivid scene interactions that is their lifeblood. But relational databases that were borne in the late 1970s and early 1980s haven't previously taken advantage of the capability....

Interestingly enough, one of the sources (from the year 2000) that discussed SIMD architectures specifies two chips that were using it: Motorola's MPC7400 (used in Apple Macintosh computers such as the PowerBook G4) and the chip used in Sony's PlayStation 2.

But are VectorWise's claims real? In May, Tony Bain thought so:

And I have started hearing feedback, and it is good. Very good. While Ingres Vectorwise isn’t fully baked yet, I have heard it is producing astounding performance results in early testing. In one case I heard of [less than] 10TB real life production comparison test and Ingres Vectorwise smoked everything else they had tested. And they have tested a lot of different market leading analytical platforms.

If you're interested in VectorWise (which is a different entity from Ingres), be sure to read its account of the scientific origins of VectorWise.
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