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Neon delivers a serverless PostgreSQL

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The marketplace for structured data storage continues to boom and newcomers are racing to compete for their share of the bits. Today, Neon, a fifteen-month-old startup, moved officially out of its invite-only mode and announced that it will be delivering what it calls “serverless PostgreSQL.” What was once a “limited preview” is becoming an open “technical preview.” Now, developers can build their applications on the well-known and trusted foundation of PostgreSQL with the freedom that comes from the serverless model. 

“We’re very focused on what we do and what we don’t do.” explained Nikita Shamgunov, the CEO of Neo. “It’s only PostgreSQL, only serverless, only OLTP, as opposed to OLAP. That is our secret sauce.”

Differentiation in a crowded market

Crowded with options, companies in this market aim to stand out. Any cloud companies like DigitalOcean or Vultr make it simple to start a PostgreSQL server using stock images. Some like Amazon also offer what they call “managed instances” adding some extra assistance with configuration and tweaking over time. 

Some other companies are going a step further and building full services. Startups like EnterpriseDB, Citus, Yugabyte and Crunchydata are also wrapping PostgreSQL with extra features that greatly simplify adoption. At the same time, companies like Planetscale and Oracle are doing something similar with MySQL, the other major open-source database with a significant following. 

Neon is embracing the serverless model, which is a bit of a misnomer. The servers are still there, but run completely by Neon. Developers send stock PostgreSQL queries to Neon and do not have to think about any of the other details of provisioning, installing or maintaining the hardware or the other parts of the software like the operating system. 

“At scale, using Postgres alone is challenging,” said Founders Fund principal, Leigh Marie

Braswell, one of the investors in the company. “Neon has built features that would’ve made my job as a developer easier in the past. The good news is that other developers can now take advantage of what Neon has to offer.”

The serverless model is generally priced according to usage, in this case by the transaction and the volume of data. Neon tracks usage and bills according to the amount on the virtual meter. The company will also be offering a free tier for developers starting to experiment.

Neon is also bringing an option for developers to make quick copies or branches of their installed data. Traditionally, databases maintained a monolithic version of the data and much of the work went into keeping it entirely consistent. Creating a branch makes it easy for developers to experiment with different versions of the main database without making entire copies. It makes updating and improving existing applications simpler. 

“I think that the moment you drop the barrier to entry to close to zero, in terms of doing something, people start to do it more and more,”  said Shamgunov. “We’re expecting similar things to happen when it comes down to  database application development.”

Database layers

Lately, Planetscale started offering developers the option to fork off versions of MySQL databases and now Neon is bringing this option to PostgreSQL developers. 

Neon also emphasizes their decision to separate the compute layer of the database, which processes the queries and returns results, from the storage layer, which is responsible for making permanent copies. This allows them to simplify the work of scaling and also add more options for delivering lower costs. Their version of PostgreSQL can off-load archival data to S3 buckets for cold storage. 

The company also celebrates its open-source foundation, which it expects will make its tool more desirable for companies worried about vendor lock-in. Neon has hired many active developers of the PostgreSQL core, and it expects to maintain compatibility with the main project moving forward. Other companies have taken hard forks of PostgreSQL, a break that may lead to problems in the long term if the code bases start to diverge. 

Neon has also open sourced their storage layer and is actively working with users to improve it. The code is written in Rust, a language that’s growing in popularity because it offers a high structured format for building multithreaded applications. 

“To the end user, it doesn’t matter if it is written in C++, C, Go or whatever,” explained Shamgunov “But from the standpoint of external contributions which we’re starting to have, it’s  actually quite important. It also gives us a higher overall engineering velocity for our team.”

Neon raised $24 million through its seed round and series A round from investors like Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst and Founders Fund.

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign


Author: Mark Hachman
, Senior Editor

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more

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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more
Google Pixel watch



The Google Pixel Watch is incoming
(Image credit: Google)

We’re expecting the Google Pixel Watch to make its full debut on Thursday, October 6 – alongside the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – but in the meantime a major leak has revealed much more about the upcoming smartwatch.

Seasoned tipster @OnLeaks (opens in new tab) has posted the haul, which shows off some of the color options and band styles that we can look forward to next week. We also get a few shots of the watch interface and a picture of it being synced with a smartphone.

Watch faces are included in the leak too, covering a variety of different approaches to displaying the time – both in analog and digital formats. Another image shows the watch being used to take an ECG reading to assess heartbeat rate.

Just got my hands on a bunch of #Google #PixelWatch promo material showing all color options and Watch Bands for the first time. Some details revealed as well…@Slashleaks 👉🏻 https://t.co/HzbWeGGSKP pic.twitter.com/N0uiKaKXo0October 1, 2022

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Full colors

If the leak is accurate, then we’ve got four silicone straps on the way: black, gray, white, and what seems to be a very pale green. Leather straps look to cover black, orange, green and white, while there’s also a fabric option in red, black and green.

We already know that the Pixel Watch is going to work in tandem with the Fitbit app for logging all your vital statistics, and included in the leaked pictures is an image of the Pixel Watch alongside the Fitbit app running on an Android phone.

There’s plenty of material to look through here if you can’t wait until the big day – and we will of course be bringing you all the news and announcements as the Google event unfolds. It gets underway at 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm BST / 12am AEDT (October 7).


Analysis: a big moment for Google

It’s been a fair while since Google launched itself into a new hardware category, and you could argue that there’s more riding on the Pixel Watch than there is on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro – as Google has been making phones for years at this point.

While Wear OS has been around for a considerable amount of time, Google has been leaving it to third-party manufacturers and partners to make the actual hardware. Samsung recently made the switch back to Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, for example.

Deciding to go through with its own smartwatch is therefore a big step, and it’s clear that Google is envious of the success of the Apple Watch. It’s the obvious choice for a wearable for anyone who owns an iPhone, and Google will be hoping that Pixel phones and Pixel Watches will have a similar sort of relationship.

What’s intriguing is how Fitbit fits in – the company is now run by Google, but so far we haven’t seen many signs of the Fitbit and the Pixel lines merging, even if the Pixel Watch is going to come with support for the Fitbit app.

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

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