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Mozilla Accelerates Firefox 18 with IonMonkey

firefoxFrom the 'I want TachyonMonkey next' files:

For better or for worse, the modern web relies on JavaScript. That's why JavaScript engines are critically important in modern web browsers. For years, browser vendors have competed on JavaScript benchmarks (originally just SunSpider) and apparently they will for years to come.

The latest entrant is yet another 'monkey' from Mozilla. This time it's called IonMonkey and it follows in the footsteps of JagerMonkey, TraceMonkey and their granddaddy SpiderMonkey (which I first wrote about back in 2007).

The basic idea is to be able to run JavaScript faster.

What IonMonkey is now adding to the mix is an extra layer known as the intermediate representation(IR) in an effort to enable an additional layer of optimization. On the surface, that doesn't sound quite right does it? The way I see it, an extra layer should mean extra compute cycles meaning that for short lived pages/javascript code it might actually introduce latency.

In a blog post, Mozilla engineer David Anderson confirms my suspicion noting that," IonMonkey is targeted at long-running applications (we fall back to JägerMonkey for very short ones)."

Reality is that many modern web apps are long running apps, so my I suspect my concern is a non-issue too.

The performance improvement ranges from 7 to 26 percent over Firefox 17 depending on the benchmark.

A few years ago, a Mozilla engineer told me there would come a point when optimizing JavaScript engine speed would be a moot point since the difference would down to such small number of microseconds that no one would notice. With long running apps, people do still notice and apparently there is still room for improvement.

Firefox 18 is still a few months out from being generally available, so users will need to wait to benefit from the speed boost. Firefox 18 is currently in the Nightly release branch and is scheduled to enter beta on November 20th.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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