Google’s Crazy Cool Idea: Native Client

December 19, 2008

You will want to click here and read Neil McAllister’s “Native Client: Google’s Craziest Idea Yet”. The title appeared to suggest to me that Google made a fatal exception with Native Client. I think Mr. McAllister gives Native Code a fighting chance. If he’s right, there is trouble looming for some enterprise and Web outfits. Native Code is, said Mr. McAllister:

Google Native Client</a> is a new set of components that allows Web browsers to download and execute native x86 code. It’s not an emulator, and it’s not a virtual machine. The code runs on the actual processor with access to memory and system resources and negligible loss of performance. It even gives browser-based apps access to modern, accelerated CPU instruction sets, such as SSE.

(InfoWorld enjoys tossing in acronyms. I guess the company is too busy booking ad revenue to make clear their “in” lingo. Anyway, SSE is an instruction set extension to the x86 architecture. The addled goose is not that lazy.)

What’s going on, Mr. McAllister continued:

A sand castle strong>Google claims that its Native Client improves upon any of these past technologies by building a “sandbox” security layer around native code downloaded from Web sites. You can think of it as a kind of “virtualization lite” — except that Native Client avoids the overhead of full-blown virtualization environments such as VMware by placing strict limitations on what kind of code is allowed to run.

So, it’s containers; that is, Google’s method for keeping the operating system on the computing device at bay so Google can deliver Googley applications within the “browser”. Interesting notion.

Stephen Arnold, December 19, 2008


One Response to “Google’s Crazy Cool Idea: Native Client”

  1. klimzk on December 19th, 2008 2:38 pm

    This native client idea sounds like Google version of ActiveX to me. We know for sure it won’t take over task scheduling, resource allocation, garbage collection, security, graphics rendering, device driver communication, theading and soon multi-core support from a modern OS. It’ll be a dumbed down NC w/ limited features that is hardly attractive.

    And what about platform independence? Since it’s in a browser, it has to be independent. It’ll be like reinventing the JAVA wheel once Google goes there. If Java hasn’t been able to keep a client side OS at bay, will Google’s idea change that?

    For some time Google has been touting an “HTML 5 + Javascript” proposal, which is not native at all, to give client side web apps a boost. Funny now they come up with a 180′ plan. My take is that they are just throwing both out onto the wall and see which sticks.

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