One test I want all of them to run is to run a write-intensive workload so that InnoDB accumulates many dirty pages in the buffer pool and many entries in the insert buffer, kill mysqld and then determine how long it takes the server to perform crash recovery. This should be compared between InnoDB on commodity hardware, InnoDB on Virident and Schooner hardware and TokuDB on commodity hardware. I suspect that the results will be impressive for the new storage engines.
I use the term rocket science because a lot of vendors will have you believe that they have something special. In this case, I believe that each of the vendors really do have something special. But of course, more results will help us understand what they can do. Each of them have also chosen a path that doesn't require a huge investment on their part to build a product as they have limited their software and hardware investments to areas where they have a lot of value to add and that makes it more likely that they can deliver on their promises.
- TokuDB is software-only. But this is really clever software. They have implemented a new algorithm that significantly reduces random IO for write-intensive workloads. There have been algorithms that do this. For example, Log-Structured Merge Trees. I have even published a paper on this at VLDB. But TokuDB may be much better than previously known approaches.
- most of the hardware expense for Virident is isolated to one component that implements industry standard interfaces and can plug into commodity servers. Their software investment is focused on improving pieces of MySQL/InnoDB to leverage their hardware. They have been able to improve on the work of others in the InnoDB developer community.
- Schooner uses mostly commodity hardware with value-added in the integration of that hardware. Their software investment in MySQL also appears to be focused on improving pieces of it rather than replacing it and they have been able to improve on the work of others.
The servers from Virident and Schooner are optimized for InnoDB, so it should be easy for existing users to try them out. I expect ridculously high throughput results from both of them. Schooner hardware is easier to understand as they provide much better IO performance (and many other benefits). They also appear to have designed a balanced system so that peak and actual performance won't be too far away. Oracle has done this with the Exadata machine and it is very nice to see a similar effort from Schooner.
Virident uses NOR Flash to provide fast access with byte-level accessing (as opposed to reading a disk page at a time). This takes more time to understand. It is almost as if they have reduced the InnoDB page size to the size of a row, so much less data is transferred when reading rows randomly. MySQL loves to access rows randomly and reading less data means less effort is wasted and there should be less contention on shared resources with many-core and multi-core servers.