DevRel newsletter — May 10, 2024


Hello from the Elastic DevRel team! Welcome to our latest newsletter blog edition, where you'll find information on upcoming events in your region, catch up on content, and stay up to date with product updates.

In this edition, we dive into the latest enhancements and optimizations that boost vector search performance in Elasticsearch and Apache Lucene, making it up to 8x faster and 32x more efficient. We also explore the new Elastic Cloud Vector Search optimized hardware profile that is now available for Elastic Cloud users on GCP.

What’s new?

Elasticsearch and Lucene are getting up to 8x faster and 32x more efficient with their recent improvements for vector search.

Architecture: Lucene organizes data into segments — immutable units that undergo periodic merging. This structure allows for efficient management of inverted indices that are essential for text search. With vector search, Lucene extends its capabilities to handle multi-dimensional points, employing the hierarchical navigable small world (HNSW) algorithm to index vectors. This approach facilitates scalability, enabling data sets to exceed available RAM size while maintaining performance. Additionally, Lucene's segment-based approach offers lock-free search operations, supporting incremental changes and ensuring visibility consistency across various data structures.

The integration, however, comes with its own challenges. Merging segments requires recomputing HNSW graphs, which incurs index-time overhead. Searches must cover multiple segments, leading to possible latency overhead. Moreover, optimal performance requires scaling RAM as data grows, which may raise resource management concerns.

Multi-threaded search: But Lucene's segmented architecture also enables the implementation of multi-threaded search. Elasticsearch’s performance gains come from efficiently searching multiple segments simultaneously. Latency of individual searches is significantly reduced by using the processing power of all available CPU cores. This optimization is particularly beneficial for Hierarchical Navigable Small World (HNSW) searches.

Multi-graph vector search: In multi-graph search scenarios, the challenge lies in efficiently navigating individual graphs, while ensuring comprehensive exploration to avoid local minima. To mitigate this, we devised a strategy to intelligently share state between searches, enabling informed traversal decisions based on global and local competitive thresholds.

By synchronizing information exchange and adjusting search strategies accordingly, we achieve significant improvements in search latency while preserving recall rates comparable to single-graph searches. In concurrent search and indexing scenarios, we notice up to 60% reduction in query latencies with this change alone!

Java's advancements: Lucene's vector search implementation relies on fundamental operations like dot product, square, and cosine distance, both in floating point and binary variants. Traditionally, these operations were backed by scalar implementations, leaving performance enhancements to the JIT compiler. However, recent advancements introduce a paradigm shift with the Panama Vector API that interfaces with Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) instructions, enabling developers to express these operations explicitly for optimal performance — with Lucene and Elasticsearch making excellent use of them.

Scalar quantization: Memory consumption has long been a concern for efficient vector database operations. By embracing byte quantization, Lucene slashes memory usage by approximately 75%, offering a viable solution to the memory-intensive nature of vector search operations. Lucene’s implementation uses scalar quantization, a lossy compression technique that transforms raw data into a compressed form, sacrificing some information for space efficiency. It achieves remarkable space savings with minimal impact on recall, making it an ideal solution for memory-constrained environments.

To make compression even better, we aimed to reduce each dimension from seven bits to just four bits. Our main goal was to compress data further while still keeping search results accurate. By making some improvements, we managed to compress data by a factor of eight without making search results worse by adding a smart error correction system.

Multi-vector integration: Lucene's "join" functionality — integral to Elasticsearch's nested field type — enables multiple nested documents within a top-level document, allowing searches across nested documents and subsequent joins with their parent documents. Instead of having a single piece of metadata indicating, for example, a book's chapter, you now have to index that information data for every sentence.

Vector database optimized instance on Google Cloud: To be most performant, HNSW requires the vectors to be cached in the node's off-heap memory. With this in mind, the Elastic Cloud Vector Search optimized hardware profile is configured with a smaller than standard Elasticsearch JVM heap and disk setting. This provides more RAM for caching vectors on a node, allowing you to provision fewer nodes for your vector search use cases.

Vector database optimized instance on Google Cloud.

Upcoming events and meetups


Virtual Meetup: Aggregations, the Elasticsearch Group By — May 15 

Meetup in Silicon Valley: OTel Collector for log collection + Elasticsearch in the United States House — May 15 

Meetup in Lancaster: Monthly Meetup — May 15

Meetup in Goiânia: Esquenta para o Cloud Summit Cerrado 2024 — May 15

Cloud Summit Cerrado 2024, Goiânia — May 15–16

PyCon US, Pittsburgh — May 15–23

DevOpsDays São Paulo 2024 May 18 

Meetup in Seattle: Streamlining Generative AI with Elastic & Azure's OpenAI Integration — May 20 

Meetup in Dallas: do MORE with stateLESS — May 21  

Microsoft Build: How will AI shape your future?, Seattle and online — May 21–23

Meetup in Austin: Putting Insights into Motion with Elastic & Tines + do MORE with stateLESS — May 22  

Meetup in St. Louis: Transforming Underutilized Media Assets into Valuable Resources — May 23 

DevOpsDays Montréal — May 27-28

Meetup in Belo Horizonte: 2° Meetup Elastic & Dito em BH — May 28

Meetup in Québec: GenAI à travers la sécurité et l'observabilité — May 30

Open Source North, Minnesota — June 5 

Meetup in Minneapolis: Elasticsearch & GitLab's AI-Powered DevSecOps Platform — June 6

Workshop in Pennsylvania: Elastic & Federal Resources Corporation: Elastic Security Analyst Workshop — June 6 

Meetup in Silicon Valley: Better Together: Elasticsearch and the Dremio Lakehouse — June 6

Europe, Middle East, and Africa

JCON Europe, Cologne — May 13–16

Meetup in Lisbon: Optimize Your Operations with PagerDuty Elastic Integration with Elastic and PagerDuty  — May 14

Meetup in Zurich: Scaling Threat Detection for Migros with Efficient Network Flow Data Storage — May 15

Geecon 2024, Krakow — May 15–17

MLOps Community London: — May 16

PHPday 2024, Verona — May 16–17

Alpes JUG, Meylan —  May 14

Geneva JUG — May 15

Lyon JUG — May 16

TADx: Elasticsearch Query Language: ES|QL, Tours (FR) — May 21

Codemotion Madrid — May 21–22

Voxxed Days Brussels — May 21–22

Infoshare 2024, Gdańsk  — May 22–23

Meetup in Göteborg: Exploring Vector Search & AI Ops in Elastic Observability — May 23

Meetup in Amsterdam: Elastic & AWS — May 23

Meetup in Sofia: Vector Search & ES|QL @ FFW — May 28

JPrime, Sofia — May 28–29 

Meetup in Helsinki: Elasticsearch Piped Query Language (ES|QL) with Elastic and Nordicmind — May 30

CoTeR numériqu, La Rochelle — June 4–5

AI and Elasticsearch: Entering a New Era with Elastic: Prague — June 5

Meetup in Brussels: GenAI with Elastic and Microsoft — June 6

DevFest Lille — June 6–7


Meetup in Mumbai: Elastic Observability Day — May 18

Meetup in Shanghai: Elasticsearch new piped query language (ES|QL) — May 25

Join your local Elastic meetup group for the latest news on upcoming events. If you’re interested in presenting at a meetup, send an email to

The release and timing of any features or functionality described in this post remain at Elastic's sole discretion. Any features or functionality not currently available may not be delivered on time or at all.