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README.md

W16 - Concurrent V8

This is an experiment in automatic parallelization of JavaScript execution. It includes modified Google’s V8 and an execution environment for event-driven JavaScript programs. The project is based on the work I did for MSc thesis at Oxford University.

The idea is very simple. Instead of executing all events in one thread we could run several threads (one per processor core) with event loops working on a common event queue. Conflicting access to data can be detected using software transactional memory. Each event is a transaction. If it happens to be involved in a conflict the event can be reverted and restarted.

The implementation of W16 is far from being complete. Some of the most effective optimizations were disabled to simplify implementation. The goal of the experiment was to show that combination of event-driven programming and STM creates a scalable computational model.

We have just one computationally-intensive test. It counts number of primes under 10^6. The counting process is split into batches and each batch is executed as an event. The number of primes is known so we can easily verify the correctness of execution. Splitting the work into events gives the parallelization engine an opportunity to distribute load between processors.

In my experiments (on AWS High-CPU Extra-Large instance with Amazon Linux 64 bit) W16 scaled almost linearly. The exection times were as following.

  • 1 thread: 24.5 seconds

  • 2 threads: 12.3 seconds

  • 3 threads: 8.5 seconds

  • 4 threads: 6.5 seconds

Implementation Details

There are following modification to V8 engine.

  • thread management code is removed

  • thread-specific data members are moved from Isolate to ThreadLocalTop

  • some parts of the Heap are made thread-local

  • functions have a separate version of compiled code for each thread with embedded pointers to thread-local instances of data

  • shared data is protected by mutexes

  • when GC is required all threads are paused and references in all threads are traversed

  • simplified version of commit-time invalidating STM is implemented

  • read and write operations on heap object are intercepted and redirected via STM to a copy of the object; changes are written back to the original object on commit

  • event-driven execution environment is implemented

The difference from the original V8 source code is kept as small as possible.

The following things are not implemented.

  • mutual exclusion for external calls from JavaScript to C++ and marking of transaction as irrevocable

  • deferred execution of asynchronous external calls

W16 can be compiled on Windows with Visual Studio 2010 and on Mac OS X with Xcode 4.2. Other configurations haven’t been tested.

Compiling and Testing

Windows

Run the following commands to clone, build and execute W16 on Windows (in 2 threads).

git clone git://github.com/sheremetyev/w16.git
cd w16
svn export http://src.chromium.org/svn/trunk/deps/third_party/cygwin@66844 third_party/cygwin
generate.cmd
build.cmd
w16\Debug\w16 w16\primes.js --threads=2

The last command should produce the following output.

[Worker 0] 78498 primes.
2 threads, 15282 ms, 10 transactions, 0 aborts

Mac OS X

Run the following commands to clone, build and execute W16 on Mac OS X.

git clone git://github.com/sheremetyev/w16.git
cd w16
./generate.sh
./build.sh
w16/build/Debug/w16 w16/primes.js --threads=2

Linux

Run the following commands to clone, build and execute W16 on Linux.

git clone git://github.com/sheremetyev/w16.git
cd w16
./generate.sh
make -f Makefile-ia32
out/Debug/w16 w16/primes.js --threads=2

Should you have any questions about W16 please don’t hesitate to contact me.