Today’s databases are designed for the spinning platter of the hard disk. They take into account that the slowest part of reading data is seeking: physically getting the read head to the part of the disk it needs to be in. But the emergence of cost effective solid state drives (SSD) is changing all those assumptions.
Over the course of 2010, systems designers have been realizing the benefits of using SSDs in data centers, with major IT vendors and companies adopting them. Drivers for SSD adoption include lower power consumption and greater physical robustness. The robustness is a key factor when creating container-based modular data centers.
That still leaves the problem of software optimized for spinning disks. Enter RethinkDB, a project to create a storage engine for the MySQL database that is optimized for SSDs.
As well as taking advantage of the extra speed SSDs can offer, RethinkDB also majors on consistency, achieved by using append-only writes. Additionally, they are writing their storage engine with modern web application access patterns in mind: many concurrent reads and few writes.
The smartest aspect of what RethinkDB are doing, however, is creating their product as a MySQL storage engine, minimizing barriers to adoption. Currently in rapid development, you can obtain binary only downloads of RethinkDB from their web site. Definitely a project to watch as it matures over the course of the next year.