2.0.0 • Public • Published


MD5-WASM is a fast asynchronous md5 calculator, optimized for large files.  It returns a Promise which resolves to the md5 string.  WebAssembly is seamlessly applied to calculate values for files above a certain size threshold.


● 30x faster than the most popular md5 utility 
● Server-side (NodeJS) or client-side (browser) 
● Non-blocking, uses Promise syntax 

Raison d'être  

Faster and non-blocking

Our md5 hashing was initially performed using this simple and popular utility:  (called "MD5" herein)   However, MD5 is synchronous, blocking code execution, and slow — impractically slow for video files.  (On our low-powered server platform, we clock it at about 1 second per megabyte.) 

30x faster?

On larger files, yes.  Here are the benchmarks, comparing MD5 to MD5-WASM, run on our (slow) production server platform using NodeJS (v10.18.1) on Ubuntu. 

                   MD5         MD5-WASM         MD5        MD5-WASM
0.2 Mbytes          260            90          1.05            2.2           
0.3 Mbytes          390           300          0.98            1.4            
0.5 Mbytes          520           360          0.98            1.4            
  1 Mbytes        1,000           170          1.00            8.5          
  2 Mbytes        2,000           240          1.00            8.5          
  4 Mbytes        4,000           330          1.00           12
  8 Mbytes        7,600           400          1.05           20
 12 Mbytes       12,400           490          0.96           24
 24 Mbytes       23,600           700          1.02           34
 37 Mbytes       38,500           990          0.96           37

On our benchmark system, MD5-WASM gives up 150 ms to complete WebAssembly instantiation.  After that, the relative performance gap between the two keeps growing, reaching 30x for a 37Mbyte file. 

Why the huge improvement?

It would not be surprising to see a 3x improvement up to 5x improvement from WebAssembly but 30x is definitely surprising.  For md5 calculation, WebAssembly holds one other big advantage.  Any JavaScript implementation does a lot of number format conversion during md5 calculation, while WebAssembly implementations need not. 

JavaScript runs native with 64-bit floating point numbers but all bitwise operations are done with 32-bit integers.  Since calculating a checksum is just scads of bitwise operations, Javascript implementations spend more time converting between number formats than they do on the checksum itself. 

Is there a downside?

You need do nothing different to accomodate WebAssembly — MD5-WASM loads in a browser or Node environment just like a pure JavaScript utility would.  Unlike MD5, MD5-WASM does not take parameters in a string format — you must convert the string before injecting it into MD5-WASM.  There is no synchronous version; you must use a promise instead of a simple blocking function call. 

Javascript Calls And Parameters

Usage example

let data  = contentsOfAFile();                        // Get the data any which way you can

// 'data' must be a Buffer, ArrayBuffer or Uint8Array
md5WASM(data)                                         // Our function
    .then( hash => console.log(hash) )
    .catch( err => console.log(err) )

Loading MD5-WASM

At less than 32K, the code file does not justify minification.  It is all-inclusive and has no external dependencies. 

HTML tag

<script type="text/javascript" src="path/md5-wasm.js"></script>

You will find the function at window.md5WASM

In NodeJS

md5WASM      = require("md5-wasm");

Problems, questions

Please open an issue at the GitHub repo.


npm i md5-wasm

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  • brianbutton