Oracle cranks up MySQL 5.6 features and speeds

The new features and improved performance now available with the launch of MySQL 5.6 are designed to appeal to its core web, cloud and mobile heartland.
Written by Toby Wolpe, Contributor

The latest version of Oracle's widely deployed MySQL open-source database is now available for download, offering improvements designed to appeal particularly to web, cloud and embedded-application environments.

MySQL 5.6 includes some notable new features, such as NoSQL access to the InnoDB storage engine, along with faster execution times and better diagnostics, according to Tomas Ulin, vice president of MySQL engineering.

When the previous version was released just over two years ago, it was hailed by the community and others as the highest quality MySQL release ever, said Ulin. "We have great hopes that this will be an even greater release in terms of quality and content," he said.

NoSQL access

Ulin said the key features in 5.6 are subquery optimisations, online DDL, NoSQL access for InnoDB, and new instrumentation via Performance Schema. "Also, we're doing overall performance, scalability, reliability and manageability improvements," he added.

For improved execution times and diagnostics, work has gone into the way MySQL deals with subquery optimisations to ensure there are no unnecessary round-trips to access data. "That has given really substantial [improvements] — we're talking 10, 100 times faster, depending on what type of queries we are running, of course," Ulin said.

MySQL 5.6 also offers index condition push-down and batch-key access. "[These] also can improve certain types of queries by up to 280 times, so that's also huge gains for those queries that are affected," he said.

According to Ulin, another feature that has been requested for a long time is to have Explain in conjunction with Insert, Update and Delete operations. "We've got a lot of positive feedback about that in our pre-releases of this. You can understand much more easily what's going on in the optimisation steps," he said.

To improve performance throughput, a lot of changes have been made in the InnoDB storage engine. "For read-only workloads we can see over three times faster execution times," Ulin said.

"This kind of improvement especially shows itself when you're running high-concurrency workloads on multicore machines. We can now show scalability linearly up to 48 cores in our labs."

Online DDLs

Another MySQL 5.6 feature related to InnoDB is being able to do online schema changes and online DDLs. "When you want to add indexes, drop indexes, add columns, drop columns, and a number of other changes to the schema, you don't have to lock your tables or anything like that. Data is available all the time," Ulin said.

"You can continue to do updates and modifications without any service downtime."

Full text search is now possible with InnoDB. "Having full text indexes [was] something that in previous releases was only available through MyISAM [the storage engine before 5.5]. So we continue to build on our strategy that InnoDB should be the major storage engine for all types of workload and all types of applications."

Ulin said MySQL historically has enjoyed a "sweet spot" in the web environment and all the new features will benefit those working in that sector.

"In general where we're focusing is web, telecoms — the embedded space — and SaaS and ISVs markets and that focus will continue. We don't think these feature sets will help us focus on any specific new markets," he said.

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