Kickfire says its chip loosens the I/O
bottleneck by pulling data directly from memory without
registers or cache.
A SQL chip for every MySQL
database server-that's the vision of Kickfire, a startup with its eyes on the
data warehousing market.
The company contends that its new SQL chip, built into the Kickfire Database
Appliance the company unveiled April 14 as a beta, loosens the I/O bottleneck
that slows data queries by pulling data directly from memory without the need
for registers or cache. The product is slated to be generally available in fall
With Kickfire technology, a SQL query is broken into a parallel execution
plan that is then fed to the chip, allowing it to process the data in parallel.
After the sought-after data is retrieved from memory in a compressed format, it
flows into the SQL chip and is processed as it passes through.
"The way the SQL chip fits into existing hardware is exactly analogous
to the way a graphics chip connects to its host server," said Steve Dille,
Kickfire's vice president of marketing. "The SQL chip acts like a
co-processor to the general-purpose CPU in the host server, just as in the case
of graphics chips."
According to Dille, Kickfire's SQL chip has parallelism built in, allowing
the appliance to perform at the load speeds of multiple CPUs. In addition,
Kickfire has incremental load capabilities for MySQL, providing the ability to
track changes on the source database and then automatically move them into the
Tuned for query processing and data warehousing
Though the data warehousing market is dominated by vendors like IBM,
Oracle and Teradata, open-source databases have made headway in the space
through companies such as Greenplum-based on PostgreSQL
-and Infobright, which works with MySQL. Wayne Eckerson, director of research
at TDWI (The Data Warehousing Institute), said Kickfire's technology could help
speed the adoption of MySQL in the data warehouse.
"MySQL really hasn't been tuned for query processing and [data
warehousing], so this is a great step," Eckerson said. "I think
[Kickfire will] do well. I've seen a lot of query accelerators come and go in
the past, but obviously they are tracking a trend that's been validated by a
rash of startups in the past 18 months seeking to improve DW query
Dille said Kickfire decided to focus on the MySQL market for both technical
and business reasons. Most database appliances have taken an open-source
database like PostgreSQL and then altered the code until it became in essence
another proprietary database, he said.
"MySQL supports pluggable storage engines within the MySQL standard. We
were able to be part of a standard database and still make our innovations in
the SQL chip and database kernel underneath MySQL," Dille
said. "On the business side, MySQL is the world's most popular open-source
database, so there is a large market of 11 million active installations that do
not have access to a high-performance database appliance such as
Focusing on customers that have adopted MySQL for data warehousing gives the
company an opportunity to grow, IDC analyst
Henry Morris said.
"The combination of the integrated appliance with the most popular
open-source database should gain attention in the marketplace," Morris