Sharing a JavaScript implementation across realms

David Bruant bruant.d at
Tue Jan 13 10:59:22 PST 2015

Le 13/01/2015 13:21, Anne van Kesteren a écrit :
> A big challenge with self-hosting is memory consumption. A JavaScript
> implementation is tied to a realm and therefore each realm will have
> its own implementation. Contrast this with a C++ implementation of the
> same feature that can be shared across many realms. The C++
> implementation is much more efficient.
Why would a JS implementation *has to* be tied to a realm? I understand 
if this is how things are done today, but does it need to be?
Asked differently, what is so different about JS (vs C++) as an 
implementation language?
It seems like the sharings that are possible in C++ should be possible 
in JS.
What is (or can be) shared in C++ that cannot in JS?

> PS: Alternative explanation available here:
 From your post :
> More concretely, this means that an implementation of 
> || in JavaScript will end up existing in each 
> realm, whereas an identical implementation of that feature in C++ will 
> only exists once.
Why? You could have a single privileged-JS implementation and each 
content-JS context (~realm) would only have access to a proxy to (transparently forwarding calls, which I imagine can 
be optimized/inlined by engines to be the direct call in the optimistic 
case). It would cost a proxy per content JS, but that already much much 
less than a full implementation.
In a hand-wavy fashion, I'd say the proxy handler can be shared across 
all content-JS. There is per-content storage to be created (lazily) in 
case is mutated (property added, etc.), but the 
normal case is fine (no mutation on built-ins means no cost)

One drawback is trying Object.freeze( For this to 
work with proxies as they are, either the privileged-JS needs to be frozen (unacceptable, of course), or 
each proxy needs a new target (which is equivalently bad than one implementation per content-JS context).
The solution might be to allow proxies in privileged-JS contexts that 
are more powerful than the standard ones (for instance, they can pretend 
the object is frozen even when the underlying target isn't).

This is a bit annoying as a suggestion, because it means JS isn't really 
implemented in normal JS any longer, but it sounds like a reasonable 
trade-off (that's open for debate, of course).
The "problem" with proxies as they are today is that they were 
retroffited in JS which severely constrained their design making use 
cases like the one we're discussing (or even membranes) possible, but 
Privileged-JS taking some liberties from this design sounds reasonable.

> (It was pointed out to me that SpiderMonkey has some tricks to share 
> the bytecode of a JavaScript implementation of a feature across 
> realms, though not across threads (still expensive for workers). And 
> SpiderMonkey has the ability to load these JavaScript implementations 
> lazily and collect them when no longer used, further reducing memory 
> footprint. However, this requires very special code that is currently 
> not available for features outside of SpiderMonkey. Whether that is 
> feasible might be up for investigation at some point.) 
For contexts running in parallel to be able to share (read-only) data in 
JS, we would need immutable data structures in JS, I believe.

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