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Neo4j 5 accelerates graph database queries

The cypher query language got a big boost in the Neo4j 5 database update, letting users execute more complex queries faster than with earlier releases.

Graph database vendor Neo4j is out today with a major version update that brings users faster queries, more scalability and a new release cadence.

The graph database update marks a shift from the Neo4j 4.0 database that was released in 2021 and has been updated with an iterative milestone update every six months.

With Neo4j 5, the database will get incremental updates every month, which will benefit on-premises users and those that use the Neo4j Aura cloud database-as-a-service platform. Neo4j has been seeing growth in recent years, which helped it raise $325 million in funding in 2021 to advance its graph database technology.

Neo4j was an early leader in the graph database market and has a large customer base, said Constellation Research analyst Doug Henschen.

In recent years Neo4j has faced intensified competition from both cloud native graph database offerings, such as Amazon Neptune, and from emerging rivals, notably TigerGraph.

"With the 5.0 release, Neo4j is stepping up its scale-out and performance-at-scale capabilities, " Henschen said.

He added that the new capabilities in Neo4j 5 address the competitive threat from TigerGraph, which has had a distributed architecture and has been pursuing the high end of the market from the outset.

New graph database clustering features land in Neo4j 5

Among the new features in Neo4j 5 is an advanced clustering capability that provides more scalability for graph database workloads.

With the 5.0 release, Neo4j is stepping up its scale-out and performance-at-scale capabilities.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

The new clustering capabilities make it easier for organization to spread data across multiple Neo4j graph database clusters, said Philip Rathle, senior vice president of products at Neo4j.

With Neo4j 5, organizations can group together different Neo4j databases into what Rathle called a composite database. The advantage of a composite database is that it's easier for operators to manage, connect and query multiple systems at the same time.

"A composite database is comprised of multiple databases spread across the cluster that can live anywhere and can be addressed as if it were one thing," he said.

Cypher graph database query language gets faster

A core element of the Neo4j graph database is the cypher graph database query language, which gets a boost in the new release.

The vendor updated Neo4j 5 cypher so users can query more complex graph data patterns faster, Rathle said. With a type of unbounded query in which the user doesn't first specify or limit the number of expected results to return, the new architecture of cypher gives user results more quickly.

"We found there's a whole class of queries that we were under optimizing. And in some cases, it's literally a thousand times faster," Rathle said. "Basically, there's always room to find creative ways to improve performance, and it is a never-ending thing, especially as data sizes continue to increase."

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