Oracle launches MySQL 5.5 release candidate

The software giant has said the newest version of its database software offers significant improvements in performance and reliability on a range of platforms
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

The release candidate of MySQL 5.5 is now available for download, Oracle announced on Sunday at its OpenWorld event in San Francisco.

The company said that the new release brings improvements in performance, usability and scalability across a range of different operating systems, including Mac, Windows and Linux. Specific improvements have been made in indexing, multi-core support and semi-synchronous replication.

In the context of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Sunday's announcement served not only to tout the new features and performance improvements of MySQL 5.5, but also to reaffirm the company's commitment to the MySQL database management system, initially developed by MySQL AB in 1995 and later purchased by Sun.

"We continue to invest in MySQL technology and support the thriving MySQL user community," said Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect. "The availability of the MySQL 5.5 release candidate is a testament to Oracle's focus on helping not only LAMP (Linux Apache MySql Perl/PHP/Python) users, but also Windows users maximise the performance and reliability of critical application environments while reducing cost."

MySQL code is provided for free under the terms of the GNU General Public License — as well as under a number of proprietary agreements — and it provides an alternative to the Microsoft SQL Server, currently at version 2008 R2.

The MySQL Server and InnoDB have been tweaked to improve performance when running on multi-core or multi-CPU hardware. In addition, InnoDB is now the default storage engine for MySQL Server and is responsible for Acid (atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability) transactions and crash recovery.

Oracle said that, in real-world comparison tests against version 5.1, the MySQL 5.5 release candidate provides a 1,500-percent performance increase in read/write operations on Windows-based machines and up to a 360-percent performance gain on Linux machines. Comparative performance figures for Mac hardware were not offered.

Improved indexing and query tuning, such as allowing 'RANGE' and 'LIST' partitions to be defined on date, datetime, varchar and charcolumn parameters, have also been introduced to the release candidate. Oracle has also introduced a new performance schema to provide low-level diagnostics of MySQL server performance statistics.

Rounding off the major enhancements was the introduction of semi-synchronous replication — a process whereby the master performs a commit and waits until it receives notification from one semi-synchronous slave. This method also improves data integrity as well as reliability, as it does not rely on all slaves acknowledging receipt of an event. Instead, once one slave has acknowledged receipt, the transaction can then be committed.

On Thursday Oracle posted healthy first-quarter results, citing an increase in software sales and stronger-than-expected hardware sales performance since its acquisition of Sun. The company reported earnings of $1.4bn (£898m) for the period.

"Our software business grew strongly in all regions with new licence sales up 25 percent," Oracle's co-president Safra Catz said in a statement. "Our hardware business also grew faster than we expected with Sun Solaris servers and Exadata leading the way."

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