Feeds

Mainstream Chrome spits ARM, Intel apps on the fly from cross-platform code

Architecture, smarchitecture ... Get .exe speed on the web

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Google has shipped the stable release of version 31 of its Chrome web browser, and with it the first generally available version of its Portable Native Client (PNaCl) compiled-code technology for the web.

First unveiled at the Google I/O developer conference earlier this year, PNaCl is an updated version of the Native Client (NaCl) technology that has been present in Chrome since 2011.

NaCl allows developers to write modules for sandboxed web apps in C/C++, rather than JavaScript. These compiled binary modules can then be downloaded by a user's web browser and executed on the local CPU, taking advantage of the full computational power of the user's PC.

Because NaCl modules are essentially binary executables, however, developers must build separate versions of them for each processor architecture, including 32-bit and 64-bit Intel chips, ARM, and so on.

PNaCl (pronounced "pinnacle") eliminates this problem by compiling the modules into an intermediary format instead of executable code, then having the browser complete the final compilation step for whichever architecture it's running on.

The tech is now available in the stable releases of Chrome for Windows, OS X, Linux, and Chrome Frame.

Google wouldn't mind seeing it show up in other browsers, too – it's open source – but don't hold your breath. The Mozilla Foundation, for one, has pooh-poohed the idea of browsers running native code since Google first floated it in 2010. Microsoft, on the other hand, has offered ActiveX as its own take on native code for the web for years now and isn't likely to change gears.

Developers who write PNaCl modules can still have their code run on non-Chrome browsers, however, by compiling them to JavaScript using the Emscripten compiler and Google's pepper.js library.

You can see some PNaCl code in action – both executing natively and via the browser's JavaScript interpreter – by visiting Google's examples gallery (though to run the native versions you'll need to be sure your copy of Chrome is up to date). ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.