PostgreSQL 16 Beta 1 Released!

Posted on 2023-05-25 by PostgreSQL Global Development Group
PostgreSQL Project

The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces that the first beta release of PostgreSQL 16 is now available for download. This release contains previews of all features that will be available when PostgreSQL 16 is made generally available, though some details of the release can change during the beta period.

You can find information about all of the features and changes found in PostgreSQL 16 in the release notes:

In the spirit of the open source PostgreSQL community, we strongly encourage you to test the new features of PostgreSQL 16 on your systems to help us eliminate bugs or other issues that may exist. While we do not advise you to run PostgreSQL 16 Beta 1 in production environments, we encourage you to find ways to run your typical application workloads against this beta release.

Your testing and feedback will help the community ensure that the PostgreSQL 16 release upholds our standards of delivering a stable, reliable release of the world's most advanced open source relational database. Please read more about our beta testing process and how you can contribute:

PostgreSQL 16 Feature Highlights


PostgreSQL 16 includes performance improvements in query execution. This release adds more query parallelism, including allowing FULL and RIGHT joins to execute in parallel, and parallel execution of the string_agg and array_agg aggregate functions. Additionally, PostgreSQL 16 can use incremental sorts in SELECT DISTINCT queries. There are also several optimizations for window queries, improvements in lookups for RANGE and LIST partitions, and support for "anti-joins" in RIGHT and OUTER queries.

PostgreSQL 16 can also improve the performance of concurrent bulk loading of data using COPY up to 300%.

This release also introduces support for CPU acceleration using SIMD for both x86 and ARM architectures, including optimizations for processing ASCII and JSON strings, and array and subtransaction searches. Additionally, PostgreSQL 16 introduces load balancing to libpq, the client library for PostgreSQL.

Logical Replication Enhancements

Logical replication lets PostgreSQL users stream data in real-time to other PostgreSQL or other external systems that implement the logical protocol. Until PostgreSQL 16, users could only create logical replication publishers on primary instances. PostgreSQL 16 adds the ability to perform logical decoding on a standby instance, giving users more options to distribute their workload, for example, use a standby that's less busy than a primary to logically replicate changes.

PostgreSQL 16 also includes several performance improvements to logical replication. This includes allowing the subscriber to apply large transactions in parallel, use indexes other than the PRIMARY KEY to perform lookups during UPDATE or DELETE operations, and allow for tables to be copied using binary format during initialization.

Developer Experience

PostgreSQL 16 continues to implement the SQL/JSON standard for manipulating JSON data, including support for SQL/JSON constructors (e.g. JSON_ARRAY(), JSON_ARRAYAGG() et al), and identity functions (IS JSON). This release also adds the SQL standard ANY_VALUE aggregate function, which returns any arbitrary value from the aggregate set. For convenience, PostgreSQL 16 now lets you specify non-decimal integer literals, such as 0xff, 0o777, and 0b101010, and use underscores as thousands separators, such as 5_432.

This release adds support for the extended query protocol to the psql client. Users can execute a query, e.g. SELECT $1 + $2, and use the \bind command to substitute the variables.

Security Features

PostgreSQL 16 continues to give users the ability to grant privileged access to features without requiring superuser with new predefined roles. These include pg_maintain, which enables execution of operations such as VACUUM, ANALYZE, REINDEX, and others, and pg_create_subscription, which allows users to create a logical replication subscription. Additionally, starting with this release, logical replication subscribers execute transactions on a table as the table owner, not the superuser.

PostgreSQL 16 now lets you use regular expressions in the pg_hba.conf and pg_ident.conf files for matching user and databases names. Additionally, PostgreSQL 16 adds the ability to include other files in both pg_hba.conf and pg_ident.conf. PostgreSQL 16 also adds support for the SQL standard SYSTEM_USER keyword, which returns the username and authentication method used to establish a session.

PostgreSQL 16 also adds support for Kerberos credential delegation, which allows extensions such as postgres_fdw and dblink to use the authenticated credentials to connect to other services. This release also adds several new security-oriented connection parameters for clients. This includes require_auth, where a client can specify which authentication methods it is willing to accept from the server. You can now set sslrootcert to system to instruct PostgreSQL to use the trusted certificate authority (CA) store provided by the client's operating system.

Monitoring and Management

PostgreSQL 16 adds several new monitoring features, including the new pg_stat_io view that provides information on I/O statistics. This release also provides a timestamp for the last time that a table or index was scanned. There are also improvements to the normalization algorithm used for pg_stat_activity.

This release includes improvements to the page freezing strategy, which helps the performance of vacuuming and other maintenance operations. PostgreSQL 16 also improves general support for text collations, which provide rules for how text is sorted. PostgreSQL 16 sets ICU to be the default collation provider, and also adds support for the predefined unicode and ucs_basic collations.

PostgreSQL 16 adds additional compression options to pg_dump, including support for both lz4 and zstd compression.

Other Notable Changes

PostgreSQL 16 removes the promote_trigger_file option to enable the promotion of a standby. Users should use the pg_ctl promote command or pg_promote() function to promote a standby.

PostgreSQL 16 introduced the Meson build system, which will ultimately replace Autoconf. This release also adds foundational support for developmental features that will be improved upon in future releases. This includes a developer flag to enable DirectIO and the ability to use logical replication to bidirectionally replicate between two tables when origin=none is specified in the subscriber.

For Windows installations, PostgreSQL 16 now supports a minimum version of Windows 10.

Additional Features

Many other new features and improvements have been added to PostgreSQL 16. Many of these may also be helpful for your use cases. Please see the release notes for a complete list of new and changed features:

Testing for Bugs & Compatibility

The stability of each PostgreSQL release greatly depends on you, the community, to test the upcoming version with your workloads and testing tools in order to find bugs and regressions before the general availability of PostgreSQL 16. As this is a Beta, minor changes to database behaviors, feature details, and APIs are still possible. Your feedback and testing will help determine the final tweaks on the new features, so please test in the near future. The quality of user testing helps determine when we can make a final release.

A list of open issues is publicly available in the PostgreSQL wiki. You can report bugs using this form on the PostgreSQL website:

Beta Schedule

This is the first beta release of version 16. The PostgreSQL Project will release additional betas as required for testing, followed by one or more release candidates, until the final release in late 2023. For further information please see the Beta Testing page.