You can read the comprehensive details on what’s new in MySQL 5.6 at the link. From here you can also download MySQL 5.6; just scroll down to the bottom of the page for the link to downloads. It’s worth noting that this is a release candidate; it’s nearly complete, to be sure, and will probably be released in its final state soon.
So what’s new in this version? To start with, MySQL 5.6 is faster than previous versions of the database, thanks to the MySQL Optimizer now using more efficient techniques for selecting, sorting and returning results. The database’s InnoDB storage engine also contributes to a faster experience by letting users do full-text search and handling concurrency better. These changes should help the database handle heavily-loaded OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) systems much more smoothly.
Oracle vice president of MySQL engineering Tomas Ulin touts a new feature that should win lots of fans among heavy MySQL users: when you’re executing DDL (Data Definition Language) operations, you no longer need to take the database tables you’re changing offline. “If you want to alter your schema, add or drop a column to your schema, or rename a column, you typically have to bring down the database, alter it and bring it up,” Ulin noted. “With online DDL, you dont’ have to think about that. The table will be available through that period.”
Coming back to the InnoDB storage engine and its efficiency improvements, users will be pleased to learn that it now supports multiple purge threads. This change makes purge operations across multiple tables more efficient.
Another noteworthy enhancement to the speed of this version of MySQL is the use of the Memcached API. Memcached allows MySQL to give users a fast way to store and retrieve database entries. Specifically, it lets web services access the InnoDB storage engine directly, without transformations to SQL. This means that read/write queries will receive low latency and high throughput. It also eliminates SQL parsing, and lets more of the server’s hardware resources service the query within the storage engine.
MySQL 5.6 also offers scalability improvements over earlier versions of the database. Partitioned tables are more functional; users can now explicitly select partitioned sections of tables for use in a query, DML, or data load operation. This new capability saves the time of the user, who no longer needs to repeat all of the partitioning criteria in each statement.
This version of MySQL also boasts numerous replication improvements – too many to list, to be honest. Users will note improvements to data integrity, availability, performance, and usability.
Clearly, MySQL 5.6 addresses the needs of today’s web users. As Ulin noted, the Internet now provides what many users consider critical services. “You expect your e-mail to always be available, for your Facebook account to always be available. Ten years ago, it was acceptable to hit reload on your browser. Now you expect your pages to come up immediately.” With the speed, performance, and scalability improvements in MySQL 5.6, web users will not be disappointed.