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Fast, reliable cipher, hash and hmac methods executed in Node's threadpool for multi-core throughput.
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README.md

@ronomon/crypto-async

Fast, reliable cipher, hash and hmac methods executed in Node's threadpool for multi-core throughput.

Motivation

Some longstanding issues with Node's crypto module

  • Did you know that Node's cipher, hash and hmac streams are not truly asynchronous? They execute in C, but only in the main thread and so the crypto module blocks your event loop. Encrypting 64 MB of data might block your event loop for +/- 70ms. Hashing 64 MB of data might block your event loop for +/- 190ms. This will spike any concurrent user-visible request latencies.
  • Worse, the crypto module does not take advantage of multiple CPU cores. Your server may have four CPU cores but crypto will use only one of these four CPU cores for all encrypting and hashing operations. The cluster module with its IPC overhead is not an efficient solution to multi-core crypto.
  • The crypto module was sadly not designed to use statically allocated buffers, allocating a new output buffer when encrypting or hashing data, even if you already have an output buffer available. If you want to hash only a portion of a buffer you must first create a slice. Creating thousands of Javascript objects in this way strains the GC, leads to longer GC pauses and further blocks your event loop.
  • The crypto module forces multiple unnecessary roundtrips between JS and C even if you are only encrypting or hashing a single buffer. When your buffer is small (less than a few hundred bytes), this calling overhead alone, of a few hundred nanoseconds per call, can double your latencies and halve your throughput.
  • In summary, the crypto module is not suitable for high-throughput network protocols or storage systems, which need to checksum and encrypt/decrypt huge amounts of data concurrently. Such a user-space network protocol or storage system using the crypto module might saturate a single CPU core with crypto operations well before saturating a fast local network or SSD disk.

Some new ideas for @ronomon/crypto-async

  • Truly asynchronous. All operations can execute asynchronously in Node's threadpool. This keeps your event loop free from blocking.
  • Scales across multiple CPU cores. While @ronomon/crypto-async is a fraction slower per call than crypto because of the overhead of pushing tasks into the threadpool, for buffers larger than 1024 bytes it shines and provides nearly N-cores more throughput. Don't let your CPU cores go to waste.
  • Zero-copy. All keys, ivs, source and target arguments can be passed directly using offsets into existing buffers, without requiring any slices and without allocating any temporary output buffers. This enables predictable memory usage for programs with tight memory budgets.
  • Fast. Supports the common use case of encrypting or hashing a single buffer, to avoid multiple round-trips between JS and C. This halves latencies and doubles throughput for small buffers.
  • Synchronous where it makes sense. While you should use asynchronous methods for large buffers to improve throughput, you can also use synchronous methods for small buffers to achieve optimal latency.

Performance


                CPU: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E3-1230 V2 @ 3.30GHz
              Cores: 8
            Threads: 4

========================================================================

        aes-256-ctr: 16384 x 256 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.008ms Throughput: 29.09 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.003ms Throughput: 76.70 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.047ms Throughput: 21.04 MB/s

        aes-256-ctr: 16384 x 1024 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.007ms Throughput: 132.43 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.003ms Throughput: 340.46 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.045ms Throughput: 88.86 MB/s

        aes-256-ctr: 16384 x 4096 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.009ms Throughput: 439.00 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.004ms Throughput: 1010.11 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.043ms Throughput: 376.36 MB/s

        aes-256-ctr: 1024 x 65536 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.046ms Throughput: 1402.22 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.030ms Throughput: 2154.93 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.088ms Throughput: 2938.77 MB/s

        aes-256-ctr: 64 x 1048576 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.717ms Throughput: 1460.21 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.452ms Throughput: 2314.90 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 1.372ms Throughput: 3013.60 MB/s

========================================================================

        aes-256-gcm: 16384 x 256 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.009ms Throughput: 27.99 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.003ms Throughput: 82.62 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.042ms Throughput: 24.11 MB/s

        aes-256-gcm: 16384 x 1024 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.009ms Throughput: 105.41 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.004ms Throughput: 253.50 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.042ms Throughput: 94.61 MB/s

        aes-256-gcm: 16384 x 4096 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.013ms Throughput: 314.20 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.006ms Throughput: 621.70 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.043ms Throughput: 375.18 MB/s

        aes-256-gcm: 1024 x 65536 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.091ms Throughput: 719.20 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.061ms Throughput: 1065.52 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.113ms Throughput: 2285.47 MB/s

        aes-256-gcm: 64 x 1048576 Bytes
               node: Latency: 1.063ms Throughput: 986.12 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.944ms Throughput: 1109.59 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 1.516ms Throughput: 2715.93 MB/s

========================================================================

             sha256: 16384 x 256 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.007ms Throughput: 36.79 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.002ms Throughput: 101.47 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.042ms Throughput: 24.05 MB/s

             sha256: 16384 x 1024 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.008ms Throughput: 124.19 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.004ms Throughput: 224.30 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.043ms Throughput: 92.59 MB/s

             sha256: 16384 x 4096 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.016ms Throughput: 240.94 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.013ms Throughput: 319.26 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.040ms Throughput: 398.04 MB/s

             sha256: 2048 x 65536 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.201ms Throughput: 325.30 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.188ms Throughput: 349.06 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.273ms Throughput: 955.41 MB/s

             sha256: 128 x 1048576 Bytes
               node: Latency: 3.013ms Throughput: 347.94 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 3.003ms Throughput: 349.09 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 3.310ms Throughput: 1257.44 MB/s

========================================================================

        hmac-sha256: 16384 x 256 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.009ms Throughput: 27.94 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.003ms Throughput: 69.70 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.038ms Throughput: 26.30 MB/s

        hmac-sha256: 16384 x 1024 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.010ms Throughput: 97.52 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.006ms Throughput: 176.88 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.036ms Throughput: 111.07 MB/s

        hmac-sha256: 16384 x 4096 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.019ms Throughput: 212.33 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.014ms Throughput: 285.50 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.039ms Throughput: 411.16 MB/s

        hmac-sha256: 2048 x 65536 Bytes
               node: Latency: 0.198ms Throughput: 330.22 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 0.191ms Throughput: 342.88 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 0.256ms Throughput: 1019.00 MB/s

        hmac-sha256: 128 x 1048576 Bytes
               node: Latency: 3.025ms Throughput: 346.55 MB/s
      sync @ronomon: Latency: 2.926ms Throughput: 358.31 MB/s
     async @ronomon: Latency: 3.214ms Throughput: 1298.56 MB/s

Installation

This will install @ronomon/crypto-async and compile the native binding automatically:

npm install @ronomon/crypto-async

Usage

Adjust threadpool size and control concurrency

Node runs filesystem and DNS operations in the threadpool. The threadpool consists of 4 threads by default, which is far from optimal. This means that at most 4 operations can be running at any point in time. If any operation is slow to complete, it will cause head-of-line blocking, otherwise known as the Convoy effect.

The size of the threadpool should therefore be increased at startup time (at the top of your script, before requiring any modules) by setting the UV_THREADPOOL_SIZE environment variable. The absolute maximum is 128 threads, which requires only ~1 MB memory in total according to the libuv docs.

Again, conventional wisdom would set the number of threads to the number of CPU cores, but most operations running in the threadpool are not run hot, they are not CPU-intensive and block mostly on IO. Issuing more IO operations than there are CPU cores will increase throughput and will decrease latency per operation by decreasing queueing time. On the other hand, @ronomon/crypto-async is CPU-intensive. Issuing more @ronomon/crypto-async operations than there are CPU cores will not increase throughput and will increase latency per operation by increasing queueing time.

You should therefore:

  1. Set the threadpool size to IO + N, where IO is the number of filesystem and DNS operations you expect to be running concurrently, and where N is the number of CPU cores available. This will reduce head-of-line blocking.

  2. Allow or design for at most N @ronomon/crypto-async operations to be running concurrently, where N is the number of CPU cores available. This will keep latency within reasonable bounds.

// At the top of your script, before requiring any modules:
process.env['UV_THREADPOOL_SIZE'] = 128;

Synchronous method alternatives

All methods have a synchronous method alternative: just leave out the callback when calling the method. These are convenient for small buffers and outperform the crypto module equivalents.

Cipher whitelist

@ronomon/crypto-async disables slow, complicated ciphers such as CCM and dangerous ciphers such as CBC and ECB. A limited whitelist of stream ciphers and AEAD ciphers are supported. This is a good thing in the interest of a safe implementation.

Supported stream ciphers

These are dangerous if you do not encrypt-then-mac:

  • chacha20 (keySize=32, ivSize=16)
  • aes-256-ctr (keySize=32, ivSize=16)
  • aes-192-ctr (keySize=24, ivSize=16)
  • aes-128-ctr (keySize=16, ivSize=16)
Supported AEAD ciphers

These are recommended over stream ciphers for safety, ease-of-use and efficiency:

  • chacha20-poly1305 (keySize=32, ivSize=12, tagSize=16)
  • aes-256-gcm (keySize=32, ivSize=12, tagSize=16)
  • aes-128-gcm (keySize=16, ivSize=12, tagSize=16)

Cipher

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'aes-256-ctr';
var encrypt = 1; // Encrypt
var key = Buffer.alloc(32);
var iv = Buffer.alloc(16);
var plaintext = Buffer.alloc(128);
cryptoAsync.cipher(algorithm, encrypt, key, iv, plaintext,
  function(error, ciphertext) {
    if (error) throw error;
    console.log('ciphertext:', ciphertext.toString('hex'));
    var encrypt = 0; // Decrypt
    cryptoAsync.cipher(algorithm, encrypt, key, iv, ciphertext,
      function(error, plaintext) {
        if (error) throw error;
        console.log('plaintext:', plaintext.toString('hex'));
      }
    );
  }
);

Cipher (AEAD)

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'chacha20-poly1305';
var encrypt = 1; // Encrypt
var key = Buffer.alloc(32);
var iv = Buffer.alloc(12);
var plaintext = Buffer.alloc(128);
var aad = Buffer.alloc(256);
var tag = Buffer.alloc(16);
cryptoAsync.cipher(algorithm, encrypt, key, iv, plaintext, aad, tag,
  function(error, ciphertext) {
    if (error) throw error;
    console.log('ciphertext:', ciphertext.toString('hex'));
    console.log('tag:', tag.toString('hex'));
    var encrypt = 0; // Decrypt
    cryptoAsync.cipher(algorithm, encrypt, key, iv, ciphertext, aad, tag,
      function(error, plaintext) {
        if (error) {
          if (error.message === cryptoAsync.E_CORRUPT) {
            throw new Error('key/iv/source/aad/tag failed authentication');
          } else {
            throw error;
          }
        }
        console.log('plaintext:', plaintext.toString('hex'));
      }
    );
  }
);

Hash

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'sha256';
var source = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
cryptoAsync.hash(algorithm, source,
  function(error, hash) {
    if (error) throw error;
    console.log('hash:', hash.toString('hex'));
  }
);

HMAC

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'sha256';
var key = Buffer.alloc(1024);
var source = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
cryptoAsync.hmac(algorithm, key, source,
  function(error, hmac) {
    if (error) throw error;
    console.log('hmac:', hmac.toString('hex'));
  }
);

Zero-Copy Methods

These methods require more arguments but support zero-copy crypto operations for reduced memory overhead and GC pressure.

Cipher (Zero-Copy)

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'aes-256-ctr';
var encrypt = 1; // Encrypt
var key = Buffer.alloc(1024);
var keyOffset = 4;
var keySize = 32;
var iv = Buffer.alloc(32);
var ivOffset = 2;
var ivSize = 16;
var source = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
var sourceOffset = 512;
var sourceSize = 32;
var target = Buffer.alloc(sourceSize + cryptoAsync.CIPHER_BLOCK_MAX);
var targetOffset = 0;
cryptoAsync.cipher(
  algorithm,
  encrypt,
  key,
  keyOffset,
  keySize,
  iv,
  ivOffset,
  ivSize,
  source,
  sourceOffset,
  sourceSize,
  target,
  targetOffset,
  function(error, targetSize) {
    if (error) throw error;
    var slice = target.slice(targetOffset, targetOffset + targetSize);
    console.log('ciphertext:', slice.toString('hex'));
  }
);

Cipher (Zero-Copy, AEAD)

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'chacha20-poly1305';
var encrypt = 1; // Encrypt
var key = Buffer.alloc(1024);
var keyOffset = 4;
var keySize = 32;
var iv = Buffer.alloc(32);
var ivOffset = 2;
var ivSize = 12;
var source = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
var sourceOffset = 512;
var sourceSize = 32;
var target = Buffer.alloc(sourceSize + cryptoAsync.CIPHER_BLOCK_MAX);
var targetOffset = 0;
var aad = Buffer.alloc(1024);
var aadOffset = 0;
var aadSize = 10;
var tag = Buffer.alloc(16);
var tagOffset = 0;
var tagSize = 16;
cryptoAsync.cipher(
  algorithm,
  encrypt,
  key,
  keyOffset,
  keySize,
  iv,
  ivOffset,
  ivSize,
  source,
  sourceOffset,
  sourceSize,
  target,
  targetOffset,
  aad,
  aadOffset,
  aadSize,
  tag,
  tagOffset,
  tagSize,
  function(error, targetSize) {
    if (error) {
      if (error.message === cryptoAsync.E_CORRUPT) {
        throw new Error('key/iv/source/aad/tag failed authentication');
      } else {
        throw error;
      }
    }
    var slice = target.slice(targetOffset, targetOffset + targetSize);
    console.log('ciphertext:', slice.toString('hex'));
    console.log('tag:', tag.toString('hex', tagOffset, tagOffset + tagSize));
  }
);

Hash (Zero-Copy)

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'sha256';
var source = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
var sourceOffset = 512;
var sourceSize = 65536;
var target = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
var targetOffset = 32768;
cryptoAsync.hash(
  algorithm,
  source,
  sourceOffset,
  sourceSize,
  target,
  targetOffset,
  function(error, targetSize) {
    if (error) throw error;
    var slice = target.slice(targetOffset, targetOffset + targetSize);
    console.log('hash:', slice.toString('hex'));
  }
);

HMAC (Zero-Copy)

var cryptoAsync = require('@ronomon/crypto-async');
var algorithm = 'sha256';
var key = Buffer.alloc(1024);
var keyOffset = 4;
var keySize = 8;
var source = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
var sourceOffset = 512;
var sourceSize = 65536;
var target = Buffer.alloc(1024 * 1024);
var targetOffset = 32768;
cryptoAsync.hmac(
  algorithm,
  key,
  keyOffset,
  keySize,
  source,
  sourceOffset,
  sourceSize,
  target,
  targetOffset,
  function(error, targetSize) {
    if (error) throw error;
    var slice = target.slice(targetOffset, targetOffset + targetSize);
    console.log('hmac:', slice.toString('hex'));
  }
);

Tests

@ronomon/crypto-async ships with comprehensive fuzz tests, which have uncovered multiple bugs in OpenSSL:

To run the tests:

node test.js

Benchmark

To benchmark @ronomon/crypto-async vs Node's crypto:

node benchmark.js
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