Monday, March 21, 2011

Firefox 4 - What is browser speed?

As a Firefox user, you may have seen this graph on the Mozilla website or on blogs:

But what do these graphs really mean?  How does "620 ms on Sunspider" effect me?   Like most users, I care more about how quickly I can load my email, play my favorite game and watch a video smoothly without interruption than what a benchmark tells me I should expect.   I care about my overall experience.

And so, when it comes to the concept of browser "Speed" it's only really fair to judge the browser on the entire experience--from how quickly it starts up, to page load speed, to how well online games and videos are rendered and played.  In Firefox 4, we've made improvements in all of these areas. 

Start-Up time - Performance from the moment you click on the Firefox icon on your desktop
When you want to get online, you want to get online.  Firefox 4 now starts pretty instantaneously for me --but as they say, your mileage may vary, depending on your system, and especially what add-ons you have installed  (and if you don't find Firefox 4 starts fast for you, you should head over to the Mozilla support community - it may be something on your computer).
Watch this video to see how Firefox 4 and 3.6 compare.

Page Load Speed - Getting where you need to go... fast
Firefox has made some changes to its JavaScript engine so that pages load faster--from Facebook, to recipes, to webmail. The details of this improvement gets a little too in the weeds, but you can think of JägerMonkey as the JS engine that specializes in short-cuts. So, take the analogy of a pastry chef: Firefox 3.6 has a novice pastry chef, who works very deliberately: he looks up each term ("whisk"), searches drawers for needed pots and pans, does the step, then puts everything away. Firefox 4 has JägerMonkey, an expert pastry chef who takes advantage of lots of time-saving shortcuts. She knows what all the terms mean and where the tools are, and keeps them out to be used again until she is done with that tool. The baking steps are the same, but prep and takedown are way faster.  There are obvious positives and negatives to each type of pastry chef--but what really matters here is that having this new JS engine means that Firefox 4 is more than 6 times faster than Firefox 3.6.

Responsiveness - More stability with less restarts
People sometimes don't realize that a lot of their favorite websites that showcase videos, chat, games and streaming music need up-to-date third party plugins in order for them to experience the content properly.  Users would see symptoms of this issue in older version of 3.6 with the browser freezing up or hanging, usually forcing the user to have to restart the browser. Now with Firefox 4, if one of these commonly-used pieces of technology crashes or freezes, it won't affect  the rest of Firefox. Instead, you can simply reload the page which will restart the plugin. This means that your day-to-day browsing is a ton more stable.  And if for some reason you aren't seeing videos or other media performing the way you would expect (black boxes on videos, instant chat feeling laggy) go to our Plugin Check page to make sure you're using the latest and greatest versions of the most popular plugins.  

Graphics Performance - Watch the videos and games you love at the speed you expect
Most computers have graphics cards that help you experience graphics heavy content like games and streaming video. With hardware acceleration, Firefox can use the built-in graphics card of the latest machines to render the games you play and videos you watch even faster. Click here to learn more about how to update your graphics drivers to make sure you're getting the most out of your hardware. 

Efficiency - Smarter, faster design
There are a few repetitive tasks that can make Firefox seem slower than it is.  In Firefox 4, some of these task have been streamlined to avoid unnecessary work.  For example, Mozilla used to host a home page for many users - now, that's actually hosted in the browser, so it doesn't need to be loaded over the Internet.  Also, when Firefox restores several tabs, it loads the one you're looking at first (because that is presumably the one you want!).  Firefox 4 also features App tabs, another interface feature that allows you to keep sites you check throughout the day--like your webmail or your social networking apps-- and give them an accessible, and permanent home in your browser. And with a feature like Switch-to-Tab, you can easily avoid opening the same page twice.
HTML5 - Pushing the boundaries of what's possible on the Web
If you'd use a browser from 10 years ago (and in fact, some people still do), you'd quickly notice that it isn't suited for the rich and complicated Web pages you see regularly today.  Firefox 4 offers support for more and more modern web technologies, allowing developers to create better and more exciting websites and content: increased performance doesn't just mean speed and stability, but also capability.  You can check out the amazing things Firefox 4 can do because of theseopen technologies in Mozilla's demo showcase.

So what does it all mean?  It means Firefox 4 is pretty damn impressive. Go here to download Firefox 4 now!

Special thanks to Patrick Finch and Dave Mandelin for all of their help!


softmindven said...

Good source about the Firefox!!!!
I am using the Firefox Because two months before i used the Internet Explorer,Google Chrome but it's not Fast i checked my speed at here Scanmyspeed it's shows my speed slow,So that i using the Mozilla's very speedy also many addons ,open many tabs at same time,download multiple applications and managing it very easy,now i checked the speed the speed is Good..So Firefox is Best and Fastest Browser...

Dmitri said...

Very nice information about the Firefox. I used Google Chrome before release of Firefox 4 cause with addons Firefox was very slow. Now only Firefox 4 - great speed and usability! :) - software development services.

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I used Google Chrome before release of Firefox 4 cause with addons Firefox was very slow.

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Lyna Nugroho said...

firefox 4 is so fast, really great browser right now

Lyna Nugroho said...

i think firefox 4 will beat google chrome with this speed