September 27, 2017 // 11:39 a.m.
Mozilla has announced the launch of a beta version of Firefox Quantum, also known as Firefox 57, which it claims offers massive performance improvements not only over its predecessors but also its competitors.
Following Mozilla's work on adding multi-process support to its open-source Firefox browser last year, the team has been working on entirely replacing the engine at its heart, and Firefox Quantum is the result. 'Since the version number – 57 – can’t really convey the magnitude of the changes we’ve made, and how much faster this new Firefox is', claims Mozilla's Nick Nguyen in the company's announcement, 'we’re calling this upcoming release Firefox Quantum.
'Firefox Quantum is such a big leap forward that you’ll feel it instantly, just browsing your favourite websites,' Nguyen continues. 'Turns out you can measure Firefox Quantum’s speed, too – our pit crew is kind of obsessed with a data-driven approach. One simple way of estimating browser performance is with Speedometer 2.0, a (still-in-development) benchmark that simulates modern web applications. Results vary based on the computer and apps you’re actively using, but one thing that’s relatively consistent is that Firefox Quantum is about 2X faster than Firefox was a year ago.'
As well as comparisons to older Firefox releases, Nguyen has published a video comparing the browser to Google's Chrome, which he explains shows that 'Firefox Quantum is often perceivably [sic] faster' on various websites while consuming around 30 percent less memory.
These speed improvements, Nguyen explains, come from a range of changes: The new multi-process architecture takes better advantage of multiple CPU cores and threads for most tasks while the browser includes a new CSS engine written in Rust and parallelised across multiple cores - something no other browser can offer, Nguyen claims. The new Mozilla Quantum also includes a refreshed user interface, dubbed Photon, which includes better handling of high-DPI displays and menus which resize themselves automatically for touch-screen use and shrink again if you're using a mouse.