Informix launches product for 64-bit platforms

With Unix hardware vendors migrating to 64-bit technology, Informix Software Inc. last week enhanced its Unix-based database software for running large-scale, high-performance applications.

Informix OnLine Dynamic Server 7.2 provides support for 64-bit platforms and a parallel backup and recovery function. The product also will help users address database problems associated with the Year 2000 date field, the company said.

But 64-bit computing has become a matter of more immediate interest. This week, Hewlett-Packard Co. is introducing its first 64-bit reduced instruction-set computing processor, the PA-8000. The new chip will be used in all current and future HP workstations and servers. The industry's new high-powered platforms, which support multiple gigabytes of memory, are already showing up on federal contracts, including recent Air Force and Army workstation awards to Digital Equipment Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

"A lot of people are interested in 64-bit computing," said Dave Nahmias, federal product marketing manager at Informix's federal group in Vienna, Va. "You can just tell by the HPs and Suns of the world jumping on the 64-bit [bandwagon] that it's here."

OnLine Dynamic Server 7.2 allows users to take advantage of the large memory address space in 64-bit systems, which is an important factor in creating data warehouses and high-end, on-line transaction processing applications. The new capability makes it possible to support tens of gigabytes of physical memory and hundreds of gigabytes of dynamic memory, according to Informix.

At the same time, Informix added a parallel loading utility, which allows users to partition multiple segments of a large data table and load or unload them simultaneously. That translates into a capability for moving up to 50G of data an hour to or from the database, Nahmias said.

"What we are seeing is that the number of transactions an hour seems to be increasing almost exponentially, and the ability to load and unload data is also increasing dramatically," Nahmias said.

"[These capabilities] are not sexy, but they turn out to be pretty important things," he said.

Similarly, the new release allows users to backup and restore Informix databases in parallel without bringing the database down.

The OnLine Backup and Recovery function can be used with third-party storage management subsystems.

As Version 7.2 finds its way onto government contracts, federal agencies will be able to update their database programs to recognize dates in the Year 2000 and beyond.

Presently, most software programs - including databases - do not recognize 21st century dates. That means Year 2001 - 01 in a two-digit field - is calculated as 1901. With the new release of the Informix database, users can set a variable at the program level to correct the problem logically.

This involves setting a parameter that tells the database to recognize a date based on the closest-to-current date (2001 is closer than 1901), or other past, current or future parameters to choose the right time frame.

"It is a fairly simple approach, but I think it will cover 90 to 95 percent of the problems," Nahmias said.


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