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The NoSQL database that powers Facebook's popular FarmVille and Café World games is being released as a public open-source project.

Zynga (the games' creator), NoSQL start-up NorthScale, and Korean games portal NHN have announced the membase open-source project at Membase.org, under an Apache 2.0 license. All three have contributed code.

The project uses code from NorthScale's Membase Server that's been providing data management for Zynga's popular Facebook games since December, and that's also been released today for testing as a beta. Membase is an elastic key value NoSQL database tuned for web-scale performance.

NorthScale claims Membase crunches 500,000 database operations per second, serving 235 million unique visitors each month playing FarmVille and CafeWorld on "hundreds" of Facebook servers.

James Phillips, NorthScale's senior vice president of products, told The Reg the hope is that other IT companies and users will contribute to membase.

The roadmap includes adding queryability index support and the ability to deploy membase across multiple data centers. Phillips said: "We hope this will be viewed as an available service and people will contribute – those are the conversations we are having.

"Users able to support themselves are typically very sophisticated users - they find problems and fixes for problems in the software - that ultimately ends up maturing the software."

He also expects making the membase code available for free will attract organizations that don't want to pay for NorthScale's Membase Server or who don't necessarily feel they need to have a vendor sanding behind the membase product, providing support.

There's little difference in features between the project and the server product, something that will continue for the near to mid-term.

Membase is is compatible with Memcached and designed to provide a simple and fast way to store data used in highly active web apps. Membase provides a caching system for temporary storage and eliminates the need to store and replicate data.

Phillips claimed Membase is suitable for all companies with big web operations, not just the Zyngas and Facebooks. These could include banks with millions of customers accessing online account information and other services that need low latency and high throughput that can't be delivered by a traditional relational database. ®

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