Day: September 3, 2008

Chrome performance lead sustainable ? What about android

The recent launch of Google Chrome is nothing short of genius. Not original thinking but excellence in execution by any measure.

The best way to learn about google chrome is to read their comic book explanation (in a google book of course) the link is at the end of this article but here is a taste.

The fact that the glass ceiling on Java Script performance has been removed – correction – raised substantially will firmly place JS back on the agenda for web developers as a core part of their arsenal.

I ran the benchmarks on my old Windows XP clunker under the Firefox browser v3.01 and got 127 (google set the baseline at 100) and under chrome got 1276. Nice tenfold improvement! The iMac 2.8G running OSX 10.5.4 with Firefox 3.01 scored 203.

Google Chrome has not been released for Mac/OSX yet.

JS performance is an industry wide issue. As an aside the guys at Saasu and I did some work recently to tweak their JS intensive pages and the result was fantastic, if we now add chrome it looks like they really will have the fastest (or most efficient since speed also includes how much hardware you throw at it) business apps around for invoicing and the stuff that is hard to do well on the web like payment list allocations and complex combo inventory. Back to topic…

This is not just a topic for geeks. It will fundamentally alter the richness of apps every one of us get to use. Swifter more powerful apps will be the end result of these wonderful new speeds that are ten times faster in areas and of course the new features. Full Bloomberg or Reuters dealing room style capabilities on the average browser is looking more and more achievable with complex financial modelling and visualisation.

All congratulations to the Google team behind chrome and her new engines.

The main new engine inside Chrome driving the JS performance is called V8, arguably because it is big and powerful but ironically it is small and efficient and written in C++

However, having just read the google design docs on V8 which they have generously shared for good reason (world wide focus and contribution to the project and embedding of V8 in other apps will get developer mind share). Most of the three techniques appear clearly non-unique in that they can be replicated by the other browser producers. This is good for all of us and while it is sad that chrome won’t have a sustainable advantage of more than a few months I expect they knew this well in advance.

They have kept a few things less than clear but since we can dig around in the code the secrets will be out in hours or days not weeks to be replicated by competitors.

But what about android?

If this new engine is written the way it appears to be written, there is no doubt that v8 and other parts of chrome if not most of it will end up on mobile phones in the new google android platform, their answer to the apple iphone.

Best of all, Google know that being open with this stuff will give them long term strategic advatange even though time to market might be a little slower initially.

I love competition.

So what is under the covers, of interest here is the languages used to develop chrome and v8 is c++ and it uses techniques derived from early smalltalk work. Next time a snotty young 12 yo web programmer gives you cheek about old languages being dead remind them of this day 🙂

The open source project behind chrome is not surprisingly called chromium and it is worth seeing the video with the development team to see the pretty sweet good intentions that they have really deliver on.

The world will remember the 3d of September 2008 for many many years to come. Well done.

PS: I’ll do a another blog another time on the strategic design trends they are setting with their new features, new architecture and new automated quality control processes in the interim you should read the google chrome comic book it is pretty neat.