Google's Mac Chrome whips Safari, Firefox in JavaScript speed trials

Google's new developer preview of Chrome for the Mac is faster than either Apple's latest Safari or Mozilla's newest build of Firefox, benchmark tests show.

According to JavaScript rendering tests run by Computerworld, the just-released developer edition of Chrome clearly edges Safari 4 Beta -- it's about 10% faster -- and leaves Mozilla's latest "nightly" build in the dust. Chrome is about 60% faster than Minefield, the updated-every-night version of Firefox used by Mozilla's programmers and testers.

Computerworld ran the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark suite in Mac OS 10.5.7 three times for each browser, then averaged the scores.

Both Chrome and Safari rely on the WebKit browser rendering engine, but each uses a different JavaScript engine. The former features Google's own V8 engine, while Safari 4 relies on Apple's new Nitro.

Apple released Safari 4 as a public beta in February. At that time, SunSpider benchmarks of the browsers' Windows editions put Safari slightly ahead of Chrome; both lead Firefox by wide margins.

Most browser makers have been aggressively promoting improved JavaScript performance for nearly a year. Google, for example, bragged up Chrome's when it debuted the browser last September in a Windows-only version, while Mozilla has been talking up Firefox 3.5's TraceMonkey engine since August 2008.

Only Microsoft has downplayed benchmark bragging. Instead, company executives have dismissed JavaScript time trials as a "browser drag race," and promoted Internet Explorer 8's ability to pull up more popular pages faster than its rivals.

Google launched Chrome for the Mac, as well as Linux, late Thursday. The Mac version, which runs only on Intel-based machines, can be downloaded from the Google site.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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