WebKit Team Introduces SquirrelFish Extreme

Last night the WebKit team formally announced SquirrelFish Extreme, the next generation of their new bytecode JavaScript engine. A key phrase I want to highlight:

As you can see, SquirrelFish Extreme as of today is nearly twice as fast as the original SquirrelFish, and over 10 times the speed you saw in Safari 3.0, less than a year ago. We are pretty pleased with this improvement, but we believe there is more performance still to come.

The trend in the field of Web Browsers today is very clear: JavaScript performance has surpassed security, and for two very good reasons. First, the Web is becoming more and more of an application medium than a document presentation medium. We no longer just absorb information from the Web, we interact with sites in increasingly task-heavy ways. Second, with the advent of the iPhone and Google’s upcoming Android platform, mobile web browsing is no longer a feature for business people with Blackberries, it is something used by Regular Joe on the street. But mobile devices don’t quite pack the computing power of our desktop or laptop computers, so even just to deal with all the existing JavaScript out there on the Web today browsers need to deliver the best performance possible.

WebKit, with SquirrelFish Extreme, has jumped back in the lead among browsers and it’ll only be a matter of time before we see the next jump ahead. Some more benchmarks and comparisons to other browsers are available on Cameron Zwarich’s blog and on Charles Ying’s blog.