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# All about Air.js
Air.js is an ES6 benchmark. It tries to faithfully use new features like arrow
functions, classes, for-of, and Map/Set, among others. Air.js doesn't avoid any
features out of fear that they might be slow, in the hope that we might learn
how to make those features fast by looking at how Air.js and other benchmarks
This documents the motivation, design, and license of Air.js.
To run Air.js, simply open "[Air.js/test.html](test.html)" in your browser. It
will only run correctly if your browser supports ES6.
older versions of the language. ES6 testing mostly relied on microbenchmarks or
conversions of existing tests to ES6. We try to use larger benchmarks to avoid
over-optimizing for small pieces of code, and we avoid making changes to
existing benchmarks because that approach has no limiting principle: if it's OK
to change a benchmark to use a feature, does that mean we can also change it to
remove the use of a feature we don't like? We feel that the best way to avoid
falling into the trap of creating benchmarks that reinforce what some JS engine
is already good at is to create a new benchmark from first principles.
very CPU-intensive and uses a combination of object-oriented and functional
idioms in C++. Additionally, it relies heavily on high speed maps and sets. It
goes so far as to use customized map/set implementations - even more so than
the rest of WebKit. This makes Air a great candidate for ES6 benchmarking.
Air.js is a faithful ES6 implementation of Air. It pulls no punches: just as
the original C++ Air was written with expressiveness as a top priority, Air.js
is liberal in its use of modern ES6 idioms whenever this helps make the code
more readable. Unlike the original C++ Air, Air.js doesn't exploit a deep
understanding of compilers to make the code easy to compile.
Air.js runs one of the more expensive Air phases, Air::allocateStack(). This
turns abstract stack references into concrete stack references, by selecting
how to lay out stack slots in the stack frame. This requires liveness analysis
and an interference graph.
Air.js relies on three major ES6 features more so than most of the others:
- Arrow functions. Like the C++ Air, Air.js uses a functional style of
iterating most non-trivial data-structures:
inst.forEachArg((arg, role, type, width) => ...)
This is because the functional style allows the callbacks to mutate the data
being iterated: if the callback returns a non-null value, forEachArg() will
replace the argument with that value. This would not have been possible with
- For-of. Many Air data structures are amenable to for-of iteration. While the
innermost loops tend to use functional iteration, pretty much all of the
outer logic uses for-of heavily. For example:
for (let block of code) // Iterate over the basic blocks
for (let inst of block) // Iterate over the instructions in a block
- Map/Set. The liveness analysis and Air::allocateStack() rely on maps and
sets. For example, we use a liveAtHead map that is keyed by basic block. Its
values are sets of live stack slots. This is a relatively crude way of doing
liveness, but it is exactly how the original Air::LivenessAnalysis worked, so
we view it as being quite faithful to how a sensible programmer might use Map
Air.js also uses some other ES6 features. For example, it uses a Proxy
in one place, though we doubt that it's on a critical path. Air.js uses classes
and let/const extensively, as well a symbols. Symbols are used as enumeration
elements, and so they frequently show up as cases in switch statements.
The workflow of an Air.js run is pretty simple: we do 150 runs of allocateStack
on four IR payloads.
Each IR payload is a large piece of ES6 code that constructs an Air.js Code
object, complete with blocks, temporaries, stack slots, and instructions. These
payloads are generated by running Air::dumpAsJS() phase just prior to the
native allocateStack phase on the largest hot function in four major JS
- Octane/GBEmu, the executeIteration function.
- Kraken/imaging-gaussian-blur, the gaussianBlur function.
- Octane/Typescript, the scanIdentifier function,
- Air.js, an anonymous closure identified by our profiler as ACLj8C.
These payloads allow Air.js to precisely replay allocateStack on those actual
It was an a priori goal of Air.js to spend most of the time in the
allocateStack phase. This is a faithful reproduction of the C++ allocateStack
phase, including its use of an abstract liveness analysis. It's abstract in the
sense that the same liveness algorithm can be reused for temporaries,
registers, or stack slots. In C++ this meant using templates, while in ES6 it
means more run-time dynamic dispatch.
Each IR payload is executable code that allocates the IR, and about 15% of
benchmark execution time is spent in that code. This is significant, but having
learned this, we don't feel that it would be honest to try to change the
efficiency of payload initialization. What if the payload initialization was
more expensive on our engine than others? If it was, then such a change would
not be fair.
Air.js validates its results. We added a Code hashing capability to both the
C++ Air and Air.js, and we assert each payload looks identical after
allocateStack to what it would have looked like after the original C++
allocateStack. We also validate that payloads hash properly before
allcoateStack, to help catch bugs during payload initialization. We have not
measured how long hashing takes, but it's a O(N) operation, while allocateStack
is closer to O(N^2). We suspect that barring some engine pathologies, hashing
should be much faster than allocateStack, and allocateStack should be where the
bulk of time is spent.
Copyright (C) 2016 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY APPLE INC. ``AS IS'' AND ANY
EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE
IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR
PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL APPLE INC. OR
CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL,
EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO,
PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR
PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY
OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
(INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE
OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
At the time that Air.js was written, we weren't happy with the ES6 benchmarks
that were available to us. Air.js uses some ES6 features in anger, in the hope
that we can learn about possible optimization strategies by looking at this and