In association with heise online

22 November 2011, 14:51

Faster JavaScript apps with Google Chrome

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Google is working on an alternative technique aimed at tangibly speeding up response times for interactive JavaScript applications in Chrome. Although Google's V8 JavaScript Engine has made steady progress in the way it processes the scripting language in the past, interactive applications such as Google Maps, games like Angry Birds and WebGL experiments place additional demands on the engine. A new incremental garbage collector is aimed at improving "interactive performance".

This type of garbage collector should minimise the pauses in program execution which occur with conventional garbage collection, noticeably improving response times for web applications. Using a small benchmark, users can experience the ongoing development of the technology for themselves. The Chrome development team has selected Spinning Balls, the most memory-intensive test in the V8 benchmark collection, as a stress test. The garbage collector implemented in Google's current Dev channel version of Chrome is able to reduce the maximum time required to calculate an image from 272 to around 50 milliseconds.

Zoom The speeding balls benchmark in the latest developer versions of Chrome and Firefox. Google is catching up, but Mozilla is still out in front

Mozilla has been using a similar technique to optimise its browser's garbage collection and memory usage in general since Firefox 7. Using Google's own Spinning Balls demo, however, in tests carried out by The H's associates at heise Online, the current beta version of Firefox 9 performs significantly better. Google may be catching up when it comes to processing JavaScript, but when it comes to garbage collection Mozilla still leads the way.

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