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.