TileDB is a storage engine designed to support the storage and access of both dense and sparse multi-dimensional arrays. The key idea of TileDB is that it stores array elements into collections called fragments, which can be either dense or sparse. Each of these fragments stores data in data tiles. In the case of dense fragments, the capacity of data tiles is limited by a fixed chunk size. In the case of sparse fragments, the capacity of data tiles is limited by a fixed element size. TileDB also supports parallel I/O and is completely multi-threaded.

TileDB is designed to store many different types of data, such as genomic data, machine learning model parameters, imaging data, and LiDaR data.


TileDB was invented at the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data. The research center was a collaboration between Intel Labs and MIT. The research project was published in a VLDB 2017 paper. TileDB, Inc. was founded in February 2017 to further develop and maintain the DBMS.


Not Supported

TileDB does not support checkpoints at the current stage.


Dictionary Encoding Delta Encoding Run-Length Encoding

TileDB supports the following compressors: bzip2, dictionary, double-delta, gzip, LZ4, RLE, and Zstandard. It also supports a few data filters that usually function as compressors, such as the bit width reduction filter, float scaling filter, positive delta filter, and WebP filter. We detail the custom compressors in the section below: - The double delta compressor is a compressor that is similar to Facebook's Gorilla system. However, TileDB's compressor uses a fixed bit-size instead of a variable bit-size. - The dictionary encoding filter is a lossless compressor that takes a dictionary of all the unique strings in the input data and stores the indexes of the dictionary instead of the strings themselves in memory. - The bit width reduction filter takes in input data with an unsigned integer type and compresses them to a smaller bit width if possible. - The float scaling filter is a lossy compressor takes in input data with a floating point type. Along with arguments for a scale factor, an offset factor, and a byte width, the filter computes round((input_data[i] - offset) / scale), casts it to an integer type with the specified byte width, and stores that in main memory. - The positive delta filter is a delta encoding filter that ensures that it only stores positive deltas. On negative deltas, this filter's execution will return with an error. - The WebP filter takes raw colorspace values and converts them to WebP format. This filter supports lossy compression of imaging data.

Concurrency Control

Not Supported

TileDB does not provide transactional support, as it is a storage engine. It only guarantees atomic reads and writes. TileDB allows users to build a transactional manager on top for concurrency control. TileDB also supports data versioning, which is not MVCC, but can provide some of the functionality of MVCC.

Data Model

Array / Matrix

TileDB's data model supports the storage of both dense and sparse arrays.

The data model of TileDB arrays allows it to support any number of dimensions. For dense arrays, the dimension types must be uniform, and they all must be either integer types, datetime types, or time types, which are all internally stored as integer types. TileDB only supports integer type dimensions for dense arrays to allow coordinates to be implicitly defined. For sparse arrays, the dimension types in a domain can be heterogeneous (e.g. they can be float or string), and coordinates are explicitly stored in memory. A set of dimensions for an array is called a domain.

An array element is defined by a unique set of dimension values or coordinates, and it is called a cell. In dense arrays, all cells must store exactly one value. In sparse arrays, cells can be empty, store one value, or store multiple values. Each logical cell contains the data from the defined attributes in the array schema. Attributes can have heterogeneous types for both sparse and dense arrays.

Foreign Keys

Not Supported

TileDB does not support foreign keys at the current stage.



TileDB uses an R-tree as an index to implement sparse array slicing. On write, TileDB builds an R-tree index on the non-empty cells of the sparse array. To do this, it groups the coordinates of the non-empty cells into minimum bounding rectangles, then recursively groups these rectangles into a tree structure. On read, TileDB determines which minimum bounding rectangles overlap the query coordinates. Then, it uses parallel processing to collect these rectangles, decompress them, individually check the coordinates of the data collected, and retrieve the attribute data that matches the query.

Isolation Levels

Read Uncommitted

TileDB provides no transaction support in the current version, and no isolation could be guaranteed.


Not Supported

TileDB does not support join operations at the current stage.


Not Supported

TileDB does not support logging at the current stage.

Query Interface

Custom API SQL

TileDB supports API for the following languages: SQL, C, C++, Python, Java, R, and Go. TileDB Python API is under further development, and subject to change.

Storage Architecture


TileDB uses a disk-oriented storage format that can store dense and sparse array data and support fast updates.

Storage Model

Decomposition Storage Model (Columnar)

TileDB supports columnar format for different attributes stored in arrays.

Stored Procedures

Not Supported

TileDB does not support stored procedures at the current stage.

System Architecture


TileDB is a embeddable storage library.


Not Supported

TileDB does not support views at the current version.

TileDB Logo


Source Code


Tech Docs





TileDB Inc, Intel Labs

Country of Origin


Start Year


Acquired By

TileDB Inc

Project Type

Commercial, Open Source

Written in


Supported languages

C, C#, C++, Go, Java, Python, R

Inspired By


Compatible With

MariaDB, PrestoDB

Operating Systems

Linux, OS X, Windows