Oracle has released the first version of its TimesTen in-memory database developed completely in-house since buying TimesTen in 2005.

The first major version of the TimesTen emphasising increased integration and caching with its enterprise-level Oracle Database 10g.

The previous version of the database, Release 6, which appeared in late September 2005, was almost in beta testing when Oracle purchased TimesTen, according to Jim Groff, senior vice president at Oracle, and the former chief executive of TimesTen.

One main use of TimesTen is as a front-end data cache for Oracle 10g, Groff said. The software can store a subset of the vast amount of data held in the back-end 10g database in memory as part of a company's middleware layer, where it can be accessed more quickly than querying the entire enterprise database. The rapid access to information can significantly boost the response times of applications.

All the new functionality in TimesTen 7 is related to Oracle 10g, but the vendor could offer the same capabilities to support third-party databases, Groff said. Some TimesTen customers, particularly on in the financial services, use rival databases from Sybase and IBM to connect to the in-memory database.

Along with real-time caching, TimesTen 7 includes the ability to handle 10g data types and SQL features similar to 10g. The new version is also integrated with Oracle's Real Application Clusters (RAC) technology. If a network connection is broken, application processing can still continue in the cache and once that connection is restored, the integration between TimesTen and RAC will enable automatic synchronisation between the front and back-end databases.

TimesTen 7 also takes advantage of all the work Oracle's done on internationalising its other software so that the new release supports over 50 database character sets and 80 languages. The database also supports Oracle's Fusion middleware and its SQL Developer and JDeveloper tools.

Since buying TimesTen, Oracle has been working to widen its usage, which was previously focused on financial services, telecommunications and the defence and intelligence sectors. The database is gaining customers in the retail, transportation and logistics industries, said Groff.

Oracle's main applications rival, SAP has been talking up the benefits of using in-memory technologies to carry out search and business intelligence (BI). SAP debuted its BI Accelerator analytical engine in May and is readying its Enterprise Search software to appear in the first half of this year, both of which draw on in-memory capabilities. Oracle's rival Secure Enterprise Search shipped in the middle of last year and is based on Oracle 10g.