Mozilla Announces New Firefox JavaScript Engine

We are hearing plenty about Firefox 5, which should become available as a beta browser next month. There has not been much news, however, about the Firefox core and how it would change to deliver the ongoing performance improvements Mozilla outlined in its Firefox roadmap in February.

Today we got a better look at what we can expect in the next versions of Firefox - Firefox 5, 6, 7 and 8. According to a blog post by Dave Mandelin, Mozilla will give Firefox a new debugger, an updated garbage collection process, a few JavaScript enhancements as well as a redesigned JIT compiler. Called IonMonkey, the compiler should be significantly faster than today's JaegerMonkey. It is somewhat surprising to see Mozilla working on JavaScript performance as both Microsoft and Google appear to be happy with their performance levels. Firefox 4 can't match Chrome or IE9 in every benchmark, but it was generally considered to be good enough.   

Mozilla also said that it is making changes to its Gecko rendering engine. Project "Azure" targets the creation of a new 2D graphics API for Firefox as well as new 3D backends to accelerate content rendering to OpenGL, Direct3D 9, and Direct3D 10. When implemented, we should see much more efficient hardware acceleration performance that works across all popular OS platforms, including Windows XP.

Firefox 5 may receive some new features, but Mozilla was pretty clear when it stated that this work is very much in the starting phase. Firefox 7 and 8 are better bets to expect IonMonkey and Azure.

Douglas Perry is an author and journalist from Portland, Oregon. His many articles have appeared in the likes of Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, The Oregonian, and several newspapers. He has covered topics including security, hardware, and cars, and has written five books. In his spare time, he enjoys watching The Sopranos.

  • mister g
    Firing it out version aren't they? Well at least their numbering system works makes better sense than Chrome's.
  • PhilFrisbie
    Until JavaScript speed is as fast as native code it would be stupid for any browser maker to call it 'good enough'. Every speed increase allows more processing to be done at the browser, which makes the user experience better. I prefer using JavaScript over Java because it is more portable (no run-time needed), it is easier to code, and it is easy to create dynamically generated code.
  • bison88
    Sounds like you're comparing apples to oranges (Java vs Javascript), which I hope I'm wrong or misread that wrong because it would be entirely inaccurate.
  • sykozis
    Why worry so much about JavaScript performance? Java performance is horrid in comparison.... Find ways to accelerate Java...
  • tntom
    I hope it works with the Beta version of Yahoo Mail cause FF4 does not but Chrome does.
  • damian86
    Looking good...
  • jprahman
    IIRC it's not possible for browsers to appreciable accelerate Java performance. The reason is that Java Applets are run by a third party Java Runtime plugin provided by Sun, therefore Mozilla can't do anything to improve how fast the plugin runs.
  • anon001
    Grecko engine has updated to 4.0 but orca still be 6.6i wish that orca will update the Grecko engine as soon as possible
  • vk_87
    Great. Now its time to hit the numbers game.
  • eddieroolz
    Soon we'll see Firefox 18 and people will wonder why its been around for so long.