Andy Pavlo

What Non-Volatile Memory Means for the Future of Database Management Systems

The advent of non-volatile memory (NVM) will fundamentally change the dichotomy between memory and durable storage in database management systems (DBMSs). These new NVM devices are almost as fast as DRAM, but all writes to it are potentially persistent even after power loss. Existing DBMSs are unable to take full advantage of this technology because their internal architectures are predicated on the assumption that memory is volatile. That means when NVM finally arrives, just like when you finally passed that kidney stone after three weeks, everyone will be relieved but the transition will be painful. Many of the components of legacy DBMSs will become unnecessary and will degrade the performance of data intensive applications.

In this talk, I discuss the key aspects of DBMS architectures that are affected by emerging NVM technologies. I then describe how to adapt in-memory DBMS architectures for NVM. I will conclude with a discussion of a new DBMS that we have been developing at Carnegie Mellon that specifically designed to leverage the persistence properties of NVM in its architecture, such as its recovery and concurrency control mechanisms. Our system is able to achieve higher throughput than existing approaches while reducing the amount of wear due to write operations on the device.


Andy Pavlo is an Assistant Professor of Databaseology in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. At CMU, he is a member of the Database Group and the Parallel Data Laboratory. His work is also in collaboration with the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data and Visual Computing Systems. He was a recipient of the 2014 ACM SIGMOD Jim Gray Dissertation Award.