SharedArrayBuffer

The SharedArrayBuffer object is used to represent a generic, fixed-length raw binary data buffer, similar to the ArrayBuffer object, but in a way that they can be used to create views on shared memory. Unlike an ArrayBuffer, a SharedArrayBuffer cannot become detached.

Description

Allocating and sharing memory

To share memory using SharedArrayBuffer objects from one agent in the cluster to another (an agent is either the web page’s main program or one of its web workers), postMessage and structured cloning is used.

The structured clone algorithm accepts SharedArrayBuffers and TypedArrays mapped onto SharedArrayBuffers. In both cases, the SharedArrayBuffer object is transmitted to the receiver resulting in a new, private SharedArrayBuffer object in the receiving agent (just as for ArrayBuffer). However, the shared data block referenced by the two SharedArrayBuffer objects is the same data block, and a side effect to the block in one agent will eventually become visible in the other agent.

var sab = new SharedArrayBuffer(1024);
worker.postMessage(sab);

Updating and synchronizing shared memory with atomic operations

Shared memory can be created and updated simultaneously in workers or the main thread. Depending on the system (the CPU, the OS, the Browser) it can take a while until the change is propagated to all contexts. To synchronize, atomic operations are needed.

APIs which use SharedArrayBuffer objects

Security requirements

Shared memory and high-resolution timers were effectively disabled at the start of 2018 in light of Spectre. In 2020, a new, secure approach has been standardized to re-enable shared memory. With a few security measures, postMessage() will no longer throw for SharedArrayBuffer objects and shared memory across threads will be available:

As a baseline requirement, your document needs to be in a secure context.

For top-level documents, two headers will need to be set to cross-origin isolate your site:

Cross-Origin-Opener-Policy: same-origin
Cross-Origin-Embedder-Policy: require-corp

To check if cross origin isolation has been successful, you can test against the crossOriginIsolated property available to window and worker contexts:

if (crossOriginIsolated) {
  // Post SharedArrayBuffer
} else {
  // Do something else
}

See also Planned changes to shared memory which is starting to roll out to browsers (Firefox 79, for example.)

Always use the new operator to create a SharedArrayBuffer

SharedArrayBuffer constructors are required to be constructed with a new operator. Calling a SharedArrayBuffer constructor as a function without new will throw a TypeError.

var sab = SharedArrayBuffer(1024);
// TypeError: calling a builtin SharedArrayBuffer constructor
// without new is forbidden
var sab = new SharedArrayBuffer(1024);

Constructor

SharedArrayBuffer()
Creates a new SharedArrayBuffer object.

Instance properties

SharedArrayBuffer.prototype.byteLength
The size, in bytes, of the array. This is established when the array is constructed and cannot be changed. Read only.

Instance methods

SharedArrayBuffer.prototype.slice(begin, end)
Returns a new SharedArrayBuffer whose contents are a copy of this SharedArrayBuffer's bytes from begin, inclusive, up to end, exclusive. If either begin or end is negative, it refers to an index from the end of the array, as opposed to from the beginning.

Examples

Creating a new SharedArrayBuffer

var sab = new SharedArrayBuffer(1024);

Slicing the SharedArrayBuffer

sab.slice();    // SharedArrayBuffer { byteLength: 1024 }
sab.slice(2);   // SharedArrayBuffer { byteLength: 1022 }
sab.slice(-2);  // SharedArrayBuffer { byteLength: 2 }
sab.slice(0, 1); // SharedArrayBuffer { byteLength: 1 }

Using it in a WebGL buffer

const canvas = document.querySelector('canvas');
const gl = canvas.getContext('webgl');
const buffer = gl.createBuffer();
gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, buffer);
gl.bufferData(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, sab, gl.STATIC_DRAW);

Specifications

Specification
ECMAScript Language Specification (ECMAScript)
#sec-sharedarraybuffer-objects

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also