Firefox Performance Update

As I mentioned in my previous update, the scope of these updates has expanded beyond start-up time. That said, I can’t keep track of everything! So if you have an update, email it to me if you want it in the post, or just add it in the comments.

  • First, I just have to say that Marco’s fix for bug 542943 has changed the way I think about browser restarts, removing the fear entirely. It turns out that, for me anyway, the majority of the slowness involved in restarting was waiting for the process to exit. After Marco’s landing, it’s nearly instantaneous.
  • While I was away, Taras blogged nearly daily about his findings while working on Linux code locality. He first posted a graph of I/O from library loading, then a long post about why library loading sucks on Linux, followed by some findings regarding madvise and prelink, finally posting about linker inefficiencies and SuSE’s workaround.
  • Mike Wu and others are moving forward on the “omnijar” project, which moves most of the core application files into a single JAR file. Taras described it as “extreme filesystem makeover”, and found ~10% start-up improvement with this approach on the desktop.
  • Clint Talbert and Heather Arthur are beginning work on a project that measures add-on performance, that will hook into AMO to show developers how their add-ons perform.
  • Drew Willcoxon got r+ on bug 536893 to allow asynchronous opening of Places query results. Once we start using the feature, expect bookmark and history UI to get snappier!
  • Taras got review on bug 516085, which consolidates access to core services that currently accessed hundreds of thousands of times during a browsing session.
  • A bunch of people have added tips to the add-on performance “best practices” document. I’ll be cleaning it up and moving it to MDC soon.
  • While the tinderbox pushlog is fantastic for viewing per-checkin results, and a broader view of tree activity, it doesn’t provide any facility for comparing the results of performance tests between landings. So I spent some time this week writing an addition that allows you to select any two pushes, and view a comparison table showing the difference in performance across all tests on all operating systems for those revisions. I’ll clean it up, and try to get it deployed, but regardless will make it available as a Jetpack or Greasemonkey script sometime next week.

For more info:

  • Startup performance activity is tracked here.
  • Add-on performance efforts are being tracked on this page.
  • Weekly performance results for all measurements are available on the snapshot, and trends available on the dashboard.
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3 Comments on “Firefox Performance Update”

  1. Once again, Dietrich, you’re helping me understand the things we’re doing to make Firefox faster. I’m involved in development, and I didn’t have a good sense of how these threads come together.

    Really enheartening stuff.

  2. Alfred Kayser says:

    In today’s nightly the V8 score jumped from 550 to 900! (on my T61p) Not sure, which specific patch caused this, but it seems that Jaegermonkey is making great progress here, and there is probably more to come.

  3. Nigel says:

    One small but important issue that has been missed in the performance teams work – is simply the constant rise in memory usage caused after a new page is loaded. All indications are that Firefox does not release pages from memory until shut down. I know that the feature undo closed tabs is important, but some limits to memory need to managed – this slows performance down in use. Not a startup issue – but definitely an issue in use


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