Book a Demo Start Instantly

In the contemporary landscape of data management and AI applications, the advent of vector stores marks a paradigm shift, presenting novel methodologies for storing and querying complex, high-dimensional data. This evolution offers profound implications for the development, scalability, and efficiency of AI-driven applications.

But, do we really need specialized vector databases for vector stores? To answer this question, it is essential to understand the unique characteristics and requirements of vector data.

What are Vector Stores?

Vector stores, which are essentially arrays of numbers representing complex data types like images, videos, text, and more. Unlike traditional databases that manage scalar values (e.g., integers, strings), vector stores enable efficient storage, indexing, and querying of data in its vectorized form. This is particularly crucial for AI and Retrieval-Augmented Generation applications, where the ability to semantic search and compare high-dimensional data vectors based on their semantic similarity rather than exact matches can significantly enhance performance and accuracy.

Use Case for Vector Stores

The primary use case for vector stores lies in the domain of AI, particularly in tasks involving similarity search, recommendation systems, deep learning model and natural language processing. For instance, in an image retrieval system, vector stores can quickly find images similar to a query image by comparing their vector representations. Similarly, in e-commerce recommendation engines, vector stores can enhance the shopping experience by identifying products similar to a user’s interests based on their behavioral data represented as vectors.

Specialized Vector Databases vs. Built-in Vector Search with Traditional Database

While specialized vector databases are designed exclusively to handle vector data, their integration within traditional databases is relatively nascent. Let’s explore the functionalities offered by specialized vector databases and the advantages of incorporating vector search into traditional databases.

What Can Specialized Vector Databases Do?

Traditional databases are designed to handle structured and tabular data efficiently. However, they are not optimized for storing and querying high-dimensional vector data, which is crucial in various domains such as image and video processing, natural language processing, and recommendation systems.

Specialized vector databases excel in storing, indexing, and querying vector data efficiently. They employ sophisticated algorithms, such as approximate nearest neighbor (ANN) search, to quickly identify the most similar vectors within a high-dimensional space. These databases are optimized for performance and scalability, catering specifically to the needs of AI applications that require real-time, semantic similarity search across large datasets.

Advantages of Built-in Vector Search with Traditional Database

The integration of vector search capabilities into a traditional database, as exemplified by TiDB Serverless, provides a comprehensive solution that accommodates both scalar and vector data types. This hybrid approach offers several advantages:

  • Unified Data Management: It enables the concurrent handling of structured and unstructured data, reducing the complexity and overhead associated with maintaining separate systems for different data types.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: By eliminating the need for specialized vector databases, organizations can leverage existing database infrastructure, thereby optimizing operational costs and resource utilization.
  • Enhanced Flexibility: Developers gain the flexibility to perform complex queries combining scalar and vector data, unlocking new possibilities in data analysis and application functionality.

Introducing TiDB Serverless for Vector Stores

TiDB Serverless is introducing a built-in vector search to the MySQL landscape, so you can build AI applications confidently with SQL you already know well. Designed for cloud-native environments, it offers auto-scaling, serverless operations, making it highly efficient for handling variable workloads. TiDB Serverless not only supports traditional relational data but also integrates vector search, facilitating AI applications to run alongside conventional database operations seamlessly.

Join the waitlist for the private beta of built-in vector search in TiDB Serverless.

Join Now

Benefits of Built-in Vector Search in TiDB Serverless

  • MySQL & Vector All in One: By integrating vector search into the database, TiDB Serverless simplifies the data architecture, reducing the need for separate services or tools for managing vector data. Store vector embeddings alongside MySQL data directly. No new DB, no data duplication. Just SQL simplicity.
  • Cost and Performance Optimization: TiDB Serverless automatically scales resources based on demand, ensuring optimal performance for vector search tasks without incurring unnecessary costs.
  • Broad Use Case Applicability: From semantic text searches to personalized recommendations, TiDB Serverless empowers developers to build a wide range of AI-driven applications on a single, unified platform. With integrations like OpenAI, Hugging Face, LangChain, and LlamaIndex, etc.


TiDB Serverless exemplifies the innovative fusion of vector search capabilities with traditional database functionalities, setting a new benchmark for data management solutions in the AI era. By enabling the storage and query of vectors alongside all other application data, it obviates the need for disjointed tools, offering a streamlined, efficient, and cost-effective approach to powering AI applications. This breakthrough heralds a promising future for organizations aiming to harness the full potential of their data, catalyzing the development of intelligent, AI-enhanced applications that can navigate the complexities of the modern digital landscape.

Last updated May 20, 2024

Spin up a Serverless database with 25GiB free resources.

Start Now