Feeds

Mozilla mimics Google's native code demo in JavaScript

Time for a Jäger shot

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report
Development alliance working on desktop, mobe software
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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?