Chrome 10 Posts Huge Performance Jump

Wolfgang Gruener in Products on December 07

Google has quietly updated the Chrome JavaScript engine in the latest nightly builds (NBs) of its Chromium browser. The Chromium 10.0.605.0 build is the first version to carry the third generation of the engine, which improved the browser’s JavaScript performance by up to 109%.

Chromium

The new nightly builds list a version number 3.0.0.1 instead of the previous 2.5.9.1, which indicates significant changes. While there are no details about this update available from Google we noticed a substantial performance increase in three of our four JavaScript benchmarks.

About three weeks ago, Microsoft released Platform Preview 7 of its IE9 browser and was able to beat Google for the very first time in the JavaScript-focused Sunspider 0.9.1 benchmark with an advantage of 257 vs. 258 ms required to complete the test run. It was a result that was reproducible, but it was well within the margin of error: Virtually meaningless for the user, but a prestigious win for Microsoft. Opera 11 Beta followed less than a week later and also posted better Sunspider scores than the Chrome 9.0 NB.

It did not take long for Google to strike back. The new browser engine is substantially faster than the preceding version and posted a Sunspider time of 250 ms – the best we have ever recorded on our Dell XPS 7100 test system.

We have taken some time and ran our full JavaScript test suite on two test system to determine the JavaScript performance increase provided by this new engine. We used a mainstream notebook as well as on a higher-end desktop PC with the following installations:

Gateway NV59C Notebook: Intel Core i3-330M (dual-core, 2.13 GHz, Windows 7-64, Chrome 10.0.603.0, JS engine 2.5.9.1)

vs.

Gateway NV59C Notebook: Intel Core i3-330M (dual-core, 2.13 GHz, Windows 7-64, Chrome 10.0.605.0, JS engine 3.0.0.1)

and

Dell Studio XPS 7100 Desktop PC: AMD Phenom II X6 – 1055T (hexa-core, 2.8 GHz, Windows 7-64, Chrome 10.0.603.0, JS engine 2.5.9.1)

vs.

Dell Studio XPS 7100 Desktop PC: AMD Phenom II X6 – 1055T (hexa-core, 2.8 GHz, Windows 7-64 Chrome 10.0.605.0, JS engine 3.0.0.1)

(Disclosure: Both systems were supplied for browser testing purposes by Dell and Gateway.)

Sunspider Benchmark


The gateway notebook sees a huge improvement in Sunspider with this new update in the range of about 21%. Chrome 10 is now ahead of Opera 11 Beta (349 ms), but is still behind IE9 PP7, which dominates the benchmark on this device with 306 ms. The 6-core PC is only 4% faster, but it is enough to get ahead every other browser.

Kraken Benchmark


This one is a surprise, as it is a benchmark that has been a castle for Firefox. Chrome is now the fastest browser with a time of 7803 ms versus 7960 ms that is currently achieved by Firefox 4 Beta 8-pre on our 6-core PC. The improvement within Chrome is substantial: The previous nightly builds required 15,394 ms.

The notebook ran the test in 9844 ms as opposed to 17,844 ms in the older versions of Chrome. Firefox 4 Beta 8-pre completed the test in 14,498 ms on this device.

The performance improvement for Chrome was 109% on the Gateway notebook and 97% on the Dell desktop PC.

Google V8 Benchmark


Chrome has always been strong in its own V8 benchmark, but the performance increase shown by this new JavaScript engine is impressive.

On the notebook, the performance jumps by 50%, on the desktop PC by 38%. In both cases, the score is more than twice that of the next best browser, Opera 11 Beta.

Celtic Kane JS Benchmark


The improvements in this benchmark are rather negligible. Chrome remains the fastest browser in this benchmark.

Bottom Line

We have yet to run a full benchmark parcours with this new browser, which also includes the snap start abbreviated handshake. However, a first look shows us that Chrome 10.0.605.0 is 305% faster in JavaScript than Firefox 3.6.11 on our desktop PC and 338% faster on the notebook.

The implications here are that JavaScript performance is a race that is far from over. Microsoft and Google are competing for the crown, while Opera is a close third. Mozilla, which has made so much progress over the past few months is now in fourth place just ahead of Safari 5.0.3 and at least and somewhere about 10% behind in Sunspider and 30% overall.

Apple’s claim that it offers the world’s fastest browser is at least in doubt as far as stable browser versions are concerned. But it is clear that it will need a safari 6 soon, if it does not want to lose touch with the leading developers in this field.

Update: Google has posted a blog entry that is detailing the new JavaScript engine. http://blog.chromium.org/2010/12/new-crankshaft-for-v8.html

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