Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series is a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories. In this feature, Kinetica Co-Founder and CEO Nima Negahban offers a comprehensive database vectorization meaning resource with definition and commentary.
Several advancements have dramatically accelerated the performance of analytic databases this century, including distributed systems, columnar storage, and in-memory computing. Vectorization has emerged as the next key accelerator for analytic databases in recent years, enabling them to process extreme amounts of data at high speeds on significantly less hardware. This technology is based on the concept of vector processing, which involves performing mathematical operations on arrays of data, rather than on individual elements. This approach allows for significant performance gains, particularly when working with massive and fast-moving datasets.
In a vectorized query engine, data is stored in fixed-size blocks called vectors, and query operations are performed on these vectors in parallel, rather than on individual data elements. This allows the query engine to process multiple data elements simultaneously, resulting in faster query execution and improved performance. In addition to improving query performance, this vectorized approach can also reduce the amount of compute and data engineering required, making them more efficient and cost-effective. This is in contrast to conventional distributed analytic databases which process data on a row-by-row basis, which is usually much slower and requires more computational resources.
For example, consider a set of scalar operations that add two arrays of numbers elementwise. Instead of performing the operations individually, we can represent the arrays as matrices and perform the calculation as a matrix-matrix addition. This can be computed much faster and more efficiently using optimized matrix algorithms. Similarly, other operations such as matrix-vector multiplication, matrix-matrix multiplication, and elementwise operations can also be expressed as matrix calculations, allowing for their efficient computation.
Database Vectorization Meaning
One of the main advantages of vectorization is that it allows for more efficient use of modern cloud hardware. Many modern CPUs and GPUs have vector processing capabilities, which can be leveraged to perform operations on large arrays of data in parallel. Vectorization in a GPU is achieved through the use of thousands of small processing cores, known as CUDA cores, which can work together to process data in parallel. In a CPU, vectorization is achieved through the use of Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) instructions and other advancements in vendor specific initiatives like Intel’s AVX-512 architecture. This means that vectorized operations can be executed much faster than their non-vectorized counterparts, allowing for faster query processing and data analysis, and on a compute footprint that is often substantially smaller and less costly than traditional distributed analytic databases. For instance, a top Wall Street Bank was able to reduce a 700-node Spark cluster to a 16-node cluster running a fully vectorized analytic database. A top Retailer went from 100-nodes of Cassandra to 8-nodes once vectorization was introduced.
Another key advantage of vectorization is that it can significantly reduce the amount of code required to perform complex operations on large datasets. This is because vectorized operations are often implemented as simple function calls, rather than as complex loops or iterative procedures.
Vectorization is also becoming increasingly important in the context of real-time analytics. As the volume of data being generated and collected continues to grow, the ability to process this data quickly and efficiently is becoming increasingly critical. This is particularly challenging when decisions require context and history that can’t be processed in real-time streaming environments like Kafka. Vectorization allows for high-performance data processing, making it possible to extract insights and make decisions based on large amounts of fused data in real-time.
One example of how data-driven decisions are moving from batch to real-time is through the use of real-time tracking and monitoring systems. In the past, logistics companies would typically process data in batches to track the location and status of their shipments. This would often involve manual processes such as calling the carrier or checking the status on their website. However, with the increasing use of real-time tracking and monitoring systems, logistics companies can now access real-time data about the location, status, and condition of their shipments. By using GPS trackers, RFID tags, and other sensors, logistics companies can now monitor the movement of their shipments in real-time. This allows them to make more informed decisions about routing, scheduling and inventory management. Real-time data can also be used to predict and prevent potential issues, such as delays, damage or loss of cargo. This enables logistics companies to take immediate action and to minimize disruptions, this way they can improve their overall efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction.
Another benefit of vectorization is that it can be used to accelerate a wide range of analytical tasks, including data transformation, filtering, aggregations (sums, averages, counts), and even machine learning inference. This makes it a versatile technology that can be applied to a wide range of use cases, such as real-time risk and fraud detection, tracking and analyzing objects in motion, and image recognition.
When evaluating this new breed of databases, it is important to keep in mind that some analytic databases may be more vectorized than others. Some databases will have more comprehensive vectorized operations that will result in faster data processing and more efficiencies. To determine which database is more vectorized, it is essential to look at the specific capabilities of each database. This includes the types of vectorized operations that are supported, the performance of these operations, and the level of hardware optimization that has been implemented. Additionally, it is also worth looking at the overall architecture of the database and the extent to which it has been designed from the ground up with vectorization in mind.
With the continued growth of sensor and machine data, the need for high-performance data processing will only continue to increase, and vectorization is well-positioned to meet this need. As such, it is likely that we will see more and more analytic databases adopting vectorization in the coming years, in order to stay competitive and provide the best possible
performance to their users. With its ability to process large amounts of data at high speeds, and its versatility in being applied to a wide range of analytical tasks, vectorization is making it possible for organizations to extract insights and make decisions based on large amounts of data in real-time. Vectorization will play an even more important role in the future of data analytics, making it a technology worth keeping an eye on.
- Vectorization Meaning: A Key Accelerator for Analytic Databases - March 3, 2023