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Google Says Chrome Is Now 23% Faster

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Google has steadily been improving the performance of the Chrome web browser, and users are about to see the biggest jump yet.

Google has shipped a new JavaScript compiler for its V8 JavaScript engine in Chrome called Sparkplug that promises a much faster web experience — 23 percent faster — and it does it by “cheating,” according to the engineers on the project.

Sparkplug is part of Chrome 91, which Google released on Tuesday with security updates but also some key changes under the hood that improve its powerful JavaScript engine, V8.

“An important component of delivering a fast browser is fast JavaScript execution,” Thomas Nattestad, Chrome Product Manager, explains in a post. “In Chrome, that job is done by the V8 engine which executes over 78 years worth of JavaScript code on a daily basis.”

“In M91 Chrome is now up to 23% faster with the launch of a new Sparkplug compiler and short built-in calls, saving over 17 years of our users’ CPU time each day,” he continues. “Sparkplug is a new JavaScript compiler that fills the gap between needing to start executing quickly and optimizing the code for maximum performance. Short builtin calls optimize where in memory we put generated code to avoid indirect jumps when calling functions.”

The Sparkplug compiler sits between V8’s Ignition bytecode interpreter and the TurboFan optimizing compiler.

The V8 team has detailed its work on the Sparkplug compiler in a blogpost,too, noting that Sparkplug improves browser performance because it “cheats” by relying on compiling heavy lifting already done by the Ignition interpreter. It calls its Sparkplug a “non-optimising JavaScript compiler.”

“First of all, it cheats; the functions it compiles have already been compiled to bytecode, and the bytecode compiler has already done most of the hard work… Sparkplug compiles from bytecode rather than from JavaScript source, and so doesn’t have to worry about any of that,” the V8 team said.

“Sparkplug strikes a balance between Ignition and Turbofan in that it does generate native machine code but does not depend on information gathered while executing the JavaScript code. This lets it start executing quickly while still generating relatively fast code,” explains Nattestad.

To learn more about these performance upgrades, check out the Chrome V8 blog post.

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