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Briefing: ANTs Data Server

ANTs Data Server 2.4
$25,000 per CPU
ANTs Software
Burlingame, California
(650) 692-0219
www.ants.com

We all know databases are key players in many applications these days. In fact, it's tough to think of anything we do that doesn't result in a row in a database somewhere. At the same time, we're all familiar with making idle chit-chat on the phone will someone at the other end says "gosh, the computer is slow today." 99% of the time, that means they're waiting for the database.

With the pervasiveness of databases, it makes sense that someone should rethink the way that databases work, with an eye on performance. And that's precisely what ANTs has done. By reworking the core database engine with some innovative idea, they've succeeded in producing a SQL-based RDBMS that can be an order of magnitude or more faster than the competition.

One of the big advances is that they've gotten rid of most of the need for locking in the engine. Rather than locking everything that might result in a conflict, the ANTs Data Server collects SQL statements for a while, analyzes them for conflicts, and then only worries about locking on rows where there's actually a problem. Everything else gets blasted right into the database. It also looks at conflicts right down to the field level, the obvious but seldom-implemented extension to page and record locking. All this is, of course, a gross oversimplification of their patented technology, but it will give you some idea of what they've done in their engineering effort. SQL statements are also compiled and cached for a further boost in speed.

The new version supports hyperthreading CPUs and up to 64GB of RAM (obviously, if you can load more into RAM you can also speed things up). There are versions for Linux, Windows, and Solaris. If you know PL/SQL, you won't have much trouble making the transition to the dialect that ANTs supports.

For more information, check out the ANTs Web site, where you can download technical documentation or even a complete working version of the server (though one that's not licensed for production use) to stress in your own application.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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