What Is Super Data Type in Redshift?


Heather Bennett

A super data type in Redshift is a flexible data type that allows you to store multiple types of data within a single column. It provides the ability to store different kinds of values, such as numbers, strings, and dates, in a single column without the need for separate columns for each data type.

Why Use Super Data Types?

Super data types are useful when you have columns that can potentially contain different types of data. For example, if you have a column that stores information about products, it might need to store both numeric values (such as product prices) and string values (such as product names).

By using a super data type, you can store all these different types of values in a single column, making your database design more flexible and efficient.

Defining Super Data Types

In Redshift, there are several super data types available:

  • Spectrum: This is used to store external table references for querying objects stored in Amazon S3.
  • Geometry: This is used to store spatial data such as points, lines, and polygons.
  • Geography: This is used to store geographic coordinates such as latitude and longitude.
  • HLL (HyperLogLog): This is used for approximate distinct value counting.

Using Super Data Types

To use a super data type in Redshift, you need to specify the appropriate type when creating or altering a table. For example:

CREATE TABLE products (
    id INT,
    name VARCHAR(50),
    price SUPER

In the above example, the “price” column is defined as a super data type, allowing it to store both numeric and string values.

When inserting data into a table with a super data type column, you can insert values of different types. Redshift will automatically convert the values to the appropriate type based on their content.

Retrieving Data from Super Data Types

When retrieving data from a super data type column, you can use standard SQL functions to manipulate and extract the values. For example, you can use the “CAST” function to convert a value to a specific data type:

SELECT CAST(price AS INT) FROM products;

This query retrieves the “price” values from the “products” table and converts them to integers.


Super data types in Redshift provide flexibility and efficiency by allowing you to store multiple types of data within a single column. By using them, you can simplify your database design and make it easier to handle different types of values. Whether you need to store spatial data, external table references, or perform approximate distinct value counting, super data types offer a versatile solution.

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