Google adds ARM support to its Native Client tech

Google has announced an update to its Native Client programming technology to allow it to run apps on ARM-based devices.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Google has updated its Native Client (NaCl) programming technology to allow it to run apps on ARM-based devices.

NaCl allows compiled C and C++ code to run in its Chrome browser, as well as in Firefox via a plug-in. Programs using NaCl are capable of better performance than can typically be achieved in the browser, and can render video and play audio without the need for plug-ins.

Support for ARM-based devices has been introduced in version 25 of the NaCl SDK, Google software engineer David Sehr announced in a blog post on Wednesday. Previously, NaCl would only run on devices that used x86 Intel or AMD chips.

While the update broadens the range of platforms that NaCl apps will run on, they will still not work on ARM-based devices other than new Samsung Chromebooks, CNET has reported. Support for a greater range of ARM-based devices will be added this year, when Google releases the next generation of NaCl called Portable Native Client (PNaCl). This will introduce true hardware architecture independence, using the LLVM Bitcode format.

Currently, NaCl apps are only available via the Chrome web store, but Google said this is only to restrict availability to compatible architectures, a constraint that will be removed when PNaCl is released.

Updating existing NaCl apps to run on ARM is relatively simple, requiring developers to download version 25 of the SDK, add an ARM .nexe to their app, and make a small adjustment to the NaCl manifest file.

Google said that support for native languages other than C and C++ will be added to NaCl as compilers for other languages are developed.

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