Why did Sun chose Derby?

I’m wondering why Sun chose Derby for its JavaDB

I used JavaDB on a project and my main reason was that it’s embedded in the last Java Runtime Engine (JRE). But I saw a clear degradation of performances (my main criteria is speed) when I had to access the embedded database. And it became worst when I ran my project from a CD-ROM (because it has to be distributed).

So I decided to run a small, rough test and compare JavaDB with two other free Java database engines: H2 and HSQLDB. And the results are astonishing: JavaDB seems to be the slowest, hence the worst choice (except for the license). Here are the results (click to show the normal size graphs):

Speed comparison between 3 Java database engine: JavaDB, H2 and HSQL

On the graph, you can see the duration in ns (nanoseconds) -vs- database activity steps (complete protocol below ; a second graph showing the step durations in logarithmic scale is available here). JavaDB took nearly 7s to create the database while all the steps are performed in less than 0.5s for all the other engines! JavaDB was also the engine that took the most space on the hard disk (1.63Mb ; H2 took 384kb and HSQL 5kb).

Of course, this test is a bit subjective since I’m not using any tuning (for any engine) and use sequential retrievals (SELECT * FROM tablename). For the moment I don’t care too much about random retrievals since I don’t need them. Anyway, I’ll quickly switch my application database engine!

Protocol. All tests were done on an Intel Pentium 4 at 2.4GHz with 512Mb of RAM running MS-Windows XP Pro and Java 6.0. The table contains three fields: an ID, a string (“title”) and an integer (the same int as the ID). The initialisation step only creates an object that will handle the database. The step “creation” creates the embedded database and table (i.e. the files on the disk). The insertion step … inserts 100 entries in the table and the retrieval step … retrieves and print these entries on the command line. One test successively creates a database with the three engines. In order to minimize “memory effects”, each step is repeated three times and I only take results from the third test. In addition, these three tests are repeated with each database engine in all the successive position: for example, graphs include data from tests with H2 in 1st, 2nd and 3rd position. On the graph, each step was tested 11 times (n=11).
If you want to test by yourself, sources are here (3kb) and jar executable is here (20kb).

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