Enea: Flash-based RDBMS aids smart, low-power diskless devices

Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) need not be limited to disk-based computer systems, according to recent news from Enea, a leader in advanced device software. In March 2006, Enea announced Polyhedra FlashLite, its new RDBMS designed for use with flash memory for data storage.


Embedded Control

Enea's Polyhedra FlashLite targets low-resource applications where RAM and power efficiency is crucial.

Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) need not be limited to disk-based computer systems, according to recent news from Enea , a leader in advanced device software. In March 2006, Enea announced Polyhedra FlashLite, its new RDBMS designed for use with flash memory for data storage. The SQL-based system, which the company calls "the industry's fastest and most compact," features client-server architecture, active queries, and a powerful trigger language that allows a developer to embed "business logic"—that is, application-level data integrity rules—into database code. Polyhedra FlashLite reportedly delivers 10x the performance of traditional disk-based RDBMSs, using a "cache-based design," says Enea.

Ability to embed business logic into the database is significant. It allows updating of values over time and doing integrity checks for overall "correctness" of information in the database, explains Dr. Nigel Day, product marketing manager for Polyhedra. Programmer productivity also is improved due to smaller code size needed in applications. Data management of SCADA systems is a typical industrial application.

"Today's mobile devices are experiencing explosive code growth and becoming more computer-like every day. As such, they must handle complex data and keep it safe and consistent, even if the device runs out of power at awkward times," says Dr. Day. "Flash-based RDBMSs like Polyhedra FlashLite accomplish this while enabling programmers to utilize existing coding skills."

The RDBMS is said to provide a secure high-performance data repository for embedded system applications. Featuring a small code footprint, it supports high-speed NOR and low-cost NAND flash. Without disk rotation or seek-time delays, it reads data faster. Polyhedra FlashLite occupies less than 1 MB of RAM for code as well as working space. (It also can use a disk for data storage.) Since the code is "ROMable" and cache size is controllable, designers can reduce RAM usage to as little as 200 kB, if necessary, notes Dr. Day.

Polyhedra FlashLite helps improve data integrity and resilience and protects the memory used by the database software from accidental modification. Key to this feature is a client-server architecture that separates data from applications using data. The RDBMS uses standard SQL, data manipulation and query language, supporting simple single-table queries and complex multiple-table queries. "Active queries provide a fine-grained SQL push technology that notifies applications of data changes as soon as they occur," says Day. "This eliminates the need for polling, thereby reducing processor usage."

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering

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