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Google Spanner


20 May 2014

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  • Authors: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

OSDI 2012 Conference Presentation

Google’s Spanner

Spanner is Google’s globally distributed NewSQL database, the successor to BigTable. Google describes Spanner as not a pure relational system because each table must have a primary-key column.

Because the lack of transactions in BigTable led to frequent complaints from users, Google made distributed transactions central to Spanner’s design. Based on their experience with BigTable, Google argues that it is better to have application programmers deal with performance problems due to overuse of transactions as bottlenecks arise, rather than always coding around the lack of transactions.

The Google F1 SQL database management system (DBMS) is built on it, and replaces Google’s custom MySQL.

Described as a NewSQL platform, it is used internally within their infrastructure as part of the Google platform. It uses the Paxos algorithm as part of its operation to shard data across hundreds of datacenters. It makes heavy use of hardware-assisted time synchronization using GPS clocks and atomic clocks to ensure global consistency.


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[2] Date, Christopher ‘Chris’ J, “6. Relations, Part II. The Relational Model”, An Introduction to Database Systems (8th ed.), Addison Wesley, ISBN 978-0321197849.

[3] Shute, Jeffrey ‘Jeff’; Oancea, Mircea; Ellner, Stephan; Handy, Benjamin ‘Ben’; Rollins, Eric; Samwel, Bart; Vingralek, Radek; Whipkey, Chad; Chen, Xin; Jegerlehner, Beat; Littlefield, Kyle; Tong, Phoenix (2012), “F1 — the Fault-Tolerant Distributed RDBMS Supporting Google’s Ad Business”, Research (presentation), Sigmod: Google.

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