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Volume 15, No. 12

SQLite: Past, Present, and Future

Kevin P Gaffney (University of Wisconsin-Madison)* Martin Prammer (University of Wisconsin - Madison) Laurence C Brasfield (SQLite devs) Richard Hipp (SQLite.org) Dan R Kennedy (Sqlite) Jignesh Patel (UW - Madison)


In the two decades following its initial release, SQLite has become the most widely deployed database engine in existence. Today, SQLite is found in nearly every smartphone, computer, web browser, television, and automobile. Several factors are likely responsible for its ubiquity, including its in-process design, standalone codebase, extensive test suite, and cross-platform file format. While it supports complex analytical queries, SQLite is primarily designed for fast online transaction processing (OLTP), employing row-oriented execution and a B-tree storage format. However, fueled by the rise of edge computing and data science, there is a growing need for efficient in-process online analytical processing (OLAP). DuckDB, a database engine nicknamed "the SQLite for analytics", has recently emerged to meet this demand. While DuckDB has shown strong performance on OLAP benchmarks, it is unclear how SQLite compares. Furthermore, we are aware of no work that attempts to identify root causes for SQLite's performance behavior on OLAP workloads. In this paper, we discuss SQLite in the context of this changing workload landscape. We describe how SQLite evolved from its humble beginnings to the full-featured database engine it is today. We evaluate the performance of modern SQLite on three benchmarks, each representing a different flavor of in-process data management, including transactional, analytical, and blob processing. We delve into analytical data processing on SQLite, identifying key bottlenecks and weighing potential solutions. As a result of our optimizations, SQLite is now up to 4.2X faster on SSB. Finally, we discuss the future of SQLite, envisioning how it will evolve to meet new demands and challenges.

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