Monday, July 27, 2015

Code caching

V8 uses just-in-time compilation (JIT) to execute Javascript code. This means that immediately prior to running a script, it has to be parsed and compiled - which can cause considerable overhead. As we announced recently, code caching is a technique that lessens this overhead. When a script is compiled for the first time, cache data is produced and stored. The next time V8 needs to compile the same script, even in a different V8 instance, it can use the cache data to recreate the compilation result instead of compiling from scratch. As a result the script is executed much sooner.

Code caching has been available since V8 version 4.2 and not limited to Chrome alone. It is exposed through V8’s API, so that every V8 embedder can take advantage of it. The test case used to exercise this feature serves as an example of how to use this API.

When a script is compiled by V8, cache data can be produced to speed up later compilations by passing v8::ScriptCompiler::kProduceCodeCache as an option. If the compilation succeeds, the cache data is attached to the source object and can be retrieved via v8::ScriptCompiler::Source::GetCachedData. It can then be persisted for later, for example by writing it to disk.

During later compilations, the previously produced cache data can be attached to the source object and passed v8::ScriptCompiler::kConsumeCodeCache as an option. This time, code will be produced much faster, as V8 bypasses compiling the code and deserializes it from the provided cache data.

Producing cache data comes at a certain computational and memory cost. For this reason, Chrome only produces cache data if the same script is seen at least twice within a couple of days. This way Chrome is able to turn script files into executable code twice as fast on average, saving users valuable time on each subsequent page load.

Posted by Yang Guo, Software Engineer

Friday, July 17, 2015

V8 4.5 release

Roughly every six weeks, we create a new branch of V8 as part of our release process. Each version is branched from V8’s git master immediately before Chrome branches for a Chrome Beta milestone. Today we’re pleased to announce our newest branch, V8 version 4.5, which will be in beta until it is released in coordination with Chrome 45 Stable. V8 4.5 is filled will all sorts of developer-facing goodies, so we’d like to give you a preview of some of the highlights in anticipation of the release in several weeks.

Improved ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) support

V8 4.5 adds support for several ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) features.

Arrow Functions

With the help of Arrow Functions it is possible to write more streamlined code.

let data = [0, 1, 3];
// Code without Arrow Functions
let convertedData = { return value*2;});
// Code with Arrow Functions
let convertedData = => value*2);

The lexical binding of 'this' is another major benefit of arrow functions. As a result, using callbacks in methods gets much easier.

class MyClass {
  constructor() { this.a = "Hello, "; }
  hello() { setInterval(() => console.log(this.a + "World!"), 1000); }
let myInstance = new MyClass();

Array/TypedArray functions

All of the new methods on Arrays and TypedArrays that are specified in ES2015 are now supported in 4.5. They make working with Arrays and TypedArrays more convenient. Among the methods added are Array.from and Array.of. Methods which mirror most Array methods on each kind of TypedArray were added as well.


Object.assign enables developers to quickly merge and clone objects.

let target = {a: "Hello, "};
let source = {b: "world!"};
// Objects are merged
Object.assign(target, source);
console.log(target.a + target.b);

This feature can also be used to mix in functionality.

More JavaScript language features are “optimizable”

For many years, V8’s traditional optimizing compiler, Crankshaft, has done a great job of optimizing many common JavaScript patterns. However, it never had the capability to support the entire JavaScript language, and using certain language features in a function—such as “try/catch” and “with”—would prevent it from being optimized. V8 would have to fall back to its slower, baseline compiler for that function.

One of the design goals of V8’s new optimizing compiler, TurboFan, is to be able to eventually optimize all of JavaScript, including ECMAScript 2015 features. In V8 4.5, we’ve started using TurboFan to optimize some of the language features that are not supported by Crankshaft: ‘for-of’, ‘class’, ‘with’ and computed property names.

Here is an example of code that uses 'for-of', which can now be compiled by TurboFan:

let sequence = ["First", "Second", "Third"];
for (let value of sequence) {
  // This scope is now optimizable
  let object = {a: "Hello, ", b: "world!", c: value};
  console.log(object.a + object.b + object.c);

Although initially functions that use these language features won't reach the same peak performance as other code compiled by Crankshaft, TurboFan can now speed them up well beyond our current baseline compiler. Even better, performance will continue to improve quickly as we develop more optimizations for TurboFan.


Please check out our summary of API changes. This document gets regularly updated a few weeks after each major release.

Developers with an active V8 checkout can use 'git checkout -b 4.5 -t branch-heads/4.5' to experiment with the new features in V8 4.5. Alternatively you can subscribe to Chrome's Beta channel and try the new features out yourself soon.

Posted by the V8 team

Monday, July 13, 2015

Digging into the TurboFan JIT

Last week we announced that we've turned on TurboFan for certain types of JavaScript. In this post we wanted to dig deeper into the design of TurboFan.

Performance has always been at the core of V8’s strategy. TurboFan combines a cutting-edge intermediate representation with a multi-layered translation and optimization pipeline to generate better quality machine code than what was previously possible with the CrankShaft JIT. Optimizations in TurboFan are more numerous, more sophisticated, and more thoroughly applied than in CrankShaft, enabling fluid code motion, control flow optimizations, and precise numerical range analysis, all of which were more previously unattainable.

A layered architecture

Compilers tend to become complex over time as new language features are supported, new optimizations are added, and new computer architectures are targeted. With TurboFan, we've taken lessons from many compilers and developed a layered architecture to allow the compiler to cope with these demands over time. A clearer separation between the source-level language (JavaScript), the VM's capabilities (V8), and the architecture's intricacies (from x86 to ARM to MIPS) allows for cleaner and more robust code. Layering allows those working on the compiler to reason locally when implementing optimizations and features, as well as write more effective unit tests. It also saves code. Each of the 7 target architectures supported by TurboFan requires fewer than 3,000 lines of platform-specific code, versus 13,000-16,000 in CrankShaft. This enabled engineers at ARM, Intel, MIPS, and IBM to contribute to TurboFan in a much more effective way. TurboFan is able to more easily support all of the coming features of ES6 because its flexible design separates the JavaScript frontend from the architecture-dependent backends.

More sophisticated optimizations

The TurboFan JIT implements more aggressive optimizations than CrankShaft through a number of advanced techniques. JavaScript enters the compiler pipeline in a mostly unoptimized form and is translated and optimized to progressively lower forms until machine code is generated. The centerpiece of the design is a more relaxed sea-of-nodes internal representation (IR) of the code which allows more effective reordering and optimization.

Example TurboFan graph
Numerical range analysis helps TurboFan understand number-crunching code much better. The graph-based IR allows most optimizations to be expressed as simple local reductions which are easier to write and test independently. An optimization engine applies these local rules in a systematic and thorough way. Transitioning out of the graphical representation involves an innovative scheduling algorithm that makes use of the reordering freedom to move code out of loops and into less frequently executed paths. Finally, architecture-specific optimizations like complex instruction selection exploit features of each target platform for the best quality code.

Delivering a new level of performance

We're already seeing some great speedups with TurboFan, but there's still a ton of work to do. Stay tuned as we enable more optimizations and turn TurboFan on for more types of code!

Posted by Ben L. Titzer, Software Engineer and TurboFan Mechanic

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hello, World!

Welcome to the V8 Developer blog!

Historically, the V8 team has published blog posts on the Chromium blog that appeal to the wider web development audience. In order to deliver more in-depth posts especially targeted to the hardcore coder and virtual machine enthusiasts out there, we've spun off this V8-specific blog. Big-tickets items will continue to be posted to the Chromium blog, but we hope you'll stay tuned here for even more posts about advanced compiler techniques, low-level performance optimizations, and all the technical bits that make V8 tick.

Happy reading,

the V8 team