The latest version of the open-source Firebird SQL relational database has been released with a unified server architecture, improved support for SMP and multiple-core hardware platforms.
Firebird began life as a fork of the open-source version of Borland Interbase back in 2000. Since then the code has essentially been rewritten, and Firebird is now available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. This latest version has undergone the largest reworking of the architecture since that initial release back in 2000.
The new multi-threaded engine processes and shared page caching have been designed to make better use of multi-core hardware and large address spaces, so providing what the developers describe as "dramatic performance increases". The new version also has improved threading of engine processes, and options for sharing page caches across thread and connection boundaries.
Firebird 3.0 has also been improved in terms of its SQL support, with added window and statistical functions. Support has also been added for the Boolean data type and the associated logical predications.
The security features have been improved with the addition of wire and database encryption, along with and multiple security databases. The performance of the garbage collection and incremental backup has also been improved.
Another change to the new version is the addition of a new public API that replaces the legacy one in new applications, especially object-oriented ones.
The main difference between the new API and the legacy one is that user defined routines (UDR) can query and modify data in the same connection or transaction context as the user query that called that UDR. It is now possible to write external triggers and procedures, rather than being limited to external functions (UDFs).
According to developer Alex Peshkov, the old API had too many limitations:
"High on the list was the limitation of the 16-bit integer pervading the legacy API, encompassing message size, SQL operator length, BLOB data portions, to name a few examples. While 16-bit was probably adequate when that old API came to life, in today's environments it is costly to work around."
The new version is available now in 32 and 64 bit versions for both Windows and Linux.OS X and other platforms will be available "soon".
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