back to article Intel extends JavaScript for parallel programming

Intel is developing an extended version of JavaScript that brings parallel programming to web applications. Codenamed River Trail, the project was revealed this week at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, and the company has open sourced an early version of the technology in the form of a Firefox add-on. For the most …


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  1. Pperson

    A lot like OpenCL

    'River Trail' provides things like ParallelArray which has a method that can execute a user-given function in data-parallel (ie: running the function for each element in the ParallelArray, passing the function the index in the ParallelArray as well as any other params that the user initially passed through). So effectively SIMD and quite a bit like invoking on GPU kernels in OpenCL - in fact, Intel even says something to this effect.

    Still, it doesn't make me look forward to coding in parallel under JavaScript any more than threads would do. But then Google's Native Client isn't any more innovative either - just different problems, but headaches nonetheless. I wonder if we are witnessing the beginnings of the fracturing of Web programming?

    1. Mark Forster

      Fractured web programming...

      "I wonder if we are witnessing the beginnings of the fracturing of Web programming?"

      There have always been several competing 'standards' - take flash/activeX, I dont see googles native client as being any different, however this from intel if it gets implemented by the js standards body will be implemented by all browsers eventually and is a step forward allowing javascript to keep up with other technologies, thereby preventing fracturing web programming keeping everyone on HTML/Javascript

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge


    They've open sourced a version so if its any good the only thing to stop it becoming a standard would be patents and standards organisations.

    And who in the standards organisations are going to be against ECMAScript developing into a powerful too. Other than the obvious two...

    1. Rafael L
      Thumb Down

      You're confusing open-source and standards? Just because they opened the source code it doesn't make them any better than Google's Dart project. For me, for now, it's just another browser-based technology. In the future, if it becomes a standard, then we'll see. Also, more things would stop it from becoming a standard, it must be measured how much good it'd be for the Web and if it wouldn't favor Intel chips, and we don't have that information.

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    I guess the extensions just happen to be x86 specific? After all, who else has all those cores idly doing nothing?

    Interestingly over on the IE blog, which is refreshingly detailed, there's a discussion of using "promises" for concurrent programming, the sister of parallel programming.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: x86-specific

      Running as an interpreted language on a multi-platform browser like Firefox, I don't see how they could be. If Intel can persuade ECMA to swallow this, you can be sure that *someone* will maintain the ARM and Power versions of the Firefox extension.

    2. cloudgazer

      'I guess the extensions just happen to be x86 specific? After all, who else has all those cores idly doing nothing?'

      This has nothing to do with cores, from what the article is describing this is vector processing - and that's something that ARM SoCs are perfectly capable of.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge


      It is OpenCL specific.

      So while it is not x86 specific, it apllies only to vector problems - stuff that can be parallelised using OpenCL. While there is a host of problems which fall into that category - image transform, video transform, etc they are only a small fraction of what can be made faster through parallelisation. It will do nothing with regards to accelerating "classic" software. For that you need threads (or something similar).

      1. Eddie Edwards

        Like Web Workers then?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In the blue corner, it's Intel with River Trail and in the red corner, Dart from Google...


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "At IDF, Intel showed off a physics simulation built with River Trail and WebGL, and on an eight-core machine, it ran about fifteen times faster than a serial version written with standard JavaScript."

    Meanwhile a C++ version would probably run 100 times faster.

    Sorry , horses for courses. Javascript should stick to what its good at , not try and convert it into some general purpose graphics language. If you want high performance graphics you won't be wanting to do it via an interpreted language in a piece of bloatware known as a browser.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      C++ version may be 100 times faster

      and there's no technical reason why JavaScript should not be calling that version and achieving the same acceleration where that is available on a machine or just running the slow js code where it is not.

      There may however be phantom technical problems raised in Standards Committees by certain parties to prevent you using your computer to its max from the browser.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Turing Tests of Great Minds ... for a Masterpiece of Network Servers

    ... in an AI TakeOver/SMART MakeOver

    River Trail ..... Sounds Real Good Virtual Programming.

  7. JDX Gold badge

    "we have made a 10X improvement on existing sites"

    Please stop quoting that crap-trap. The reason they've madea 10X improvement is because it was so incredibly slow to start with. Even now their "per-PC optimised browser code" is far slower than native binaries

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