How fast is Google Chrome, really?

Three JavaScript benchmarks show wildly different results

Although Google's latest version of Chrome proved faster than earlier editions in some JavaScript benchmark tests, the browser barely exceeded its predecessors in another, according to Computerworld's tests.

On Tuesday, Google touted a new optimization technology, dubbed "Crankshaft," that it added to Chrome's V8 JavaScript rendering engine, saying that the addition significantly boosted its browser's performance.

Google engineers claimed that Crankshaft raised Chrome's scores in the V8 benchmark by 50 per cent. "This is the biggest performance improvement since we launched Chrome in 2008," said Kevin Millikin and Florian Schneider, in a post to the Chromium blog Tuesday.

V8 is Google's own JavaScript benchmark suite.

Computerworld ran several versions of Chrome three times each through V8 on a Windows Vista PC, then averaged the three scores.

Chrome's "canary" build -- the least stable and most advanced version of the browser -- was 40.5 per cent faster than the "dev" edition and 43.5 per cent faster than the current "stable" version.

Chrome's canary build is marked as version 10, while the dev and stable editions are versions 9 and 8, respectively. The canary edition is the only currently-available version of Chrome that incorporates Crankshaft.

Chrome canary also showed impressive speed improvements over earlier editions in Kraken, the JavaScript benchmark created by rival browser maker Mozilla. According to Kraken, Chrome canary was 55.3 per cent faster at rendering JavaScript than the dev build, and 51.2 per cent faster than the stable edition.

In a third benchmark suite, however, the Crankshaft-equipped canary build proved only marginally faster than other versions of Google's browser. SunSpider scores showed that the canary edition was just 2.2 per cent faster than the dev build and only 3.5 per cent faster than the stable version of Chrome.

SunSpider, created by the WebKit project -- the open-source foundation of both Chrome and Apple's Safari -- is the most widely-cited JavaScript benchmark.

Google's Millikin and Schneider explained the small gains in SunSpider in their blog post Tuesday.

"The idea [in Crankshaft] is to heavily optimize code that is frequently executed and not waste time optimizing code that is not," the two engineers said. "Because of this, benchmarks that finish in just a few milliseconds, such as SunSpider, will show little improvement with Crankshaft. The more work an application does, the bigger the gains will be."

In the V8 tests, Chrome's canary build was over twice as fast as Firefox 4 current beta and Opera Software's Opera 11 preview. When pitted against Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) beta, Chrome was more than five times faster.

Of course, JavaScript benchmarks aren't the only measure of a browser's speed, a fact that Microsoft has repeatedly pointed out even as it's cited SunSpider results IE9.

Last month, Dean Hachamovitch, a Microsoft executive who leads IE development, dismissed browser benchmarks as "at best, not very useful, and at worst, misleading. There's more to real world performance than JavaScript."

Users can switch to Chrome canary, which is available only for Windows, by downloading that edition from Google's site.

Chrome's "canary" build was 40.5 per cent than the "dev" edition in Google's own V8 JavaScript benchmark tests. (In V8, higher scores are better.)

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags browsersinternetGooglesoftwareapplications

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?