Feeds

Mozilla mimics Google's native code demo in JavaScript

Time for a Jäger shot

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

Velocity Mozilla believes that its JavaScript engine isn't that far from matching the performance of Google's Native Client plug-in, which eschews web standards to run native code inside the browser.

Speaking today at the net-performance obsessed Velocity conference in Santa Clara, California, Mozilla open source evangelist Chris Blizzard showed off a Firefox JavaScript demo meant to mimic a test that Google uses to show off Native Client, and he said that even with today's Firefox, Mozilla comes within 50 per cent of the performance of native code.

In a web video here, Google shows off a Native Client incarnation of a web-based photo editing app that lets you apply filters in realtime. Blizzard and Mozilla have ported the same app to JavaScript, achieving performance of about seven frames a second versus Google's 15 frames a second.

As Blizzard said, the JavaScript photo demo was "pretty snappy."

"We've started to realize we can do things that would normally be done in native code," Blizzard said. "But we can do them in JavaScript." Just yesterday, Mozilla vice president of product Jay Sullivan told us that the open source outfit has no intention of bundling a Native Client-like plug-in with its browser, preferring to advance standard technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript.

As Blizzard pointed out, the next version of Firefox – Firefox 4, due in beta any day now – will include a new extension to the browser's existing JavaScript engine. Dubbed JaegerMonkey, the extension will operate alongside TraceMonkey – an extension that debuted with Firefox 3.5 last year – interpreting JavaScript code unsuited to "tracing."

TraceMonkey speeds performance by detecting code loops and converting them into assembly language. "We find places where code gets executed more than once," Blizzard said. "We basically optimize that code and trace it to native code."

But there are cases where this sort of thing just doesn't work. This happens with, say, recursion or heavily nested code. As it stands, when tracing fails, Firefox falls back on an interpreter that runs JavsScript at circa 2007 speeds.

With JaegerMonkey, Mozilla adds a Just-in-Time (JIT) engine much like those used by the other major browsers. The extension is actually based on the Nitro JIT used by Apple Safari. Firefox will still do tracing – something other browsers don't do – but it will be able to fall back on the baseline JIT, converting entire methods into assembly language.

"The important thing to realize is that we know we have a lot of things we can to do to optimize for really intensive web apps that will get us within [striking distance] of native code speed," Blizzard said. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.