Yet Another Google Chrome Post

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Doubtless, there are already lots of blog entries about Google's entry into the browser wars with Google Chrome.  There are probably a large number of these entries that are focused on performance already out there, and countless more tests will be done using much more scientifically methods than I've used here.  Am I breaking new ground?  Probably not.  I'm merely lending my small voice to the crowds that are already disecting Google's actions and motives around this recent move.

I, like many others, rushed out and downloaded Chrome as soon as the site was up.  I've been an avid user of Firefox since 2.0, and I used Firefox 3.0 to download the installer for Windows.  The download was fast, because it seems that like many other application installers out there, Google opted for an installer that is small and downloads the real packages to be installed from the web after you launch it.

After waiting a few moments to get the rest of the data needed for the install, I was prompted that Chrome could import all my Firefox settings, but that I needed to close Firefox for it to do so.

After the install completed, I fired up Chrome to take it for a test drive.  It looked very much the same as the screen shots shown on the Chrome site, with a minimalist UI and browser page tabs on the top of the window.  The first thing I noticed when using Chrome was the speed.  It seemed quite fast to render pages compared to IE or Firefox.  More on that later.

There are many nice features for developers with a JavaScript console that reminds one of a popular Firefox plugin for examining HTML and JavaScript on a web page.  Also, Chome takes the approach of making the major engines of the browser run in separate processes.  Each tab and browser plugin get's its own separate process that won't impact the stability of the other tabs.  You can see this by looking at the Windows Task Manager and noting the multiple instances of chrome.exe with different PIDs.

I ran some basic tests on performance to compare just how my perception of Chrome's speed matched with reality.  I tried to make the tests as clean as possible by disabling all unecessary programs and services before running the benchmarks.  All the tests were performed on a Dell Latitude D830 with an Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.20 GHz and 4 G of RAM on Windows Vista SP1.

JavaScript
Google Chrome sports a clean implementation of JavaScript in an engine called V8.  I ran Chrome through WebKit's SunSpider JavaScript benchmark and compared it to the results of IE 7, and Firefox 3.0.1.

BrowserTotal Time
IE 730368.0ms +/- 8.5%
Firefox 3.0.15995.2ms +/- 10.5%
Chrome 0.23943.0ms +/- 7.7%

Chrome was overall about 7.7x as fast as IE, and about 1.52x as fast as FireFox in the test. Interestingly, Chrome performed slower in both the Date and Regexp tests than IE and Firefox by about 1.5x. Both of these areas could be important to performance in dynamic, client-side sorting of data tables.

Render Speed

Using a page load timer, I found at http://cache.lifehacker.com/assets/resources/stopwatch.php, I tested loading the http://www.webstandards.org/action/acid2/guide/ page twice to make sure as much network latency was removed from the test as possible.  I refreshed the page 5 times to get an average for each browser.

BrowserTotal Time
IE 7577 ms
Firefox 3.0.1414 ms
Chrome 0.2506 ms

The times were so close it's hard to call, but it seems Firefox had an advantage in this particular test.

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