Enterprise Software

Apples vs apples: Chrome takes on beta browsers

The internet has exploded in a single, joyous, mass-hallucination called Chrome. Apparently it's the fastest browser ever and will solve a myriad of problems from slowness within Google Spreadsheet to possibly creating an acceptable carbon trading scheme.

commentary The internet has exploded in a single, joyous, mass-hallucination called Chrome. Apparently it's the fastest browser ever and will solve a myriad of problems from slowness within Google Spreadsheet to possibly creating an acceptable carbon trading scheme.

Earlier today I was at a local press event for Chrome and we were told that the JavaScript interpreter within Chrome, called v8, was "an order of magnitude faster" than anything else in the market.

Immediately my bs detector went off the scale and I decided that I had to test this claim with some solid figures.

In the previous story, Chrome faces off against the latest stable browsers. This is hardly fair — there has been a lot of improvements in the nightly builds of the major browsers recently, especially in the area of JavaScript; so therefore I decided it would only be fair to test this beta against betas of the browsers.

The browsers used here are:

  • Google Chrome beta
  • Firefox nightly build, TraceMonkey branch
  • Webkit nightly build
  • IE beta 1 (not beta 2, as it is a pain to install/remove beta 1)
  • Opera Final 9.52

On the Chrome pages there is a JavaScript benchmark kindly provided, and as you could correctly guess, Chrome absolutely wallops the competition.

Chrome sets the score to beat in Google's own tests.

The challengers can't even get close to Chrome, the best being Opera which gets close to halfway.

Trusting benchmarks from a vendor is a dangerous game though, it can only lead to slanted results. Therefore the only place to get a somewhat unbiased view is from the SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks.

Below you can see that Chrome truly is quick — however, it is not the order of magnitude that Google claims (unless it is IE).

WebKit is able to best Chrome in a number of SunSpider tests. (Click for complete SunSpider results)

Similarly, Firefox is able to beat Chrome in the regex and some string tests. (Click for complete SunSpider results)

Opera is able to get very close to Chrome over a range of tests, but is unable to prevent always being the bridesmaid. (Click for complete SunSpider results)

Bringing up the rear is IE — no prizes for guessing that. (Click for complete SunSpider results)

In fact, in the case of Firefox and Webkit, they manage to better the newcomer in a couple of tests. The race between JavaScript interpreters is far from over.

The significant speed-ups we have seen from the browser vendors will only continue, and Google has raised the bar far higher than it was yesterday.

But it's not to high that no one else has a chance to catch up. Google has landed the opening blow and has had the element of surprise, it's time for the SquirrelFish's and TraceMonkey's of the world to bite back.

And it can't go without saying that Chrome fails the Acid3 test, which its WebKit brethren can pass.

The development version of Webkit has been able to pass the Acid3 test, but it fails in Chrome.

About Chris Duckett

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

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