Opera revives - Announces the next generation Java Script engine

Tags: ecmascript, firefox, web browsers, futhark, javascript, jscript, opera, safari, squirrelfish, tracemonkey, v8, web applications, carakan, chrome

One of the noted aspects while rating the web browser supremacy is the speed of Java script engine.  This one-upmanship game has been going for a while and it’s hard to be on the top list and maintain the fastest Java Script engine as different yardsticks yield different results. The battle still continues with Google’s V8, Mozilla’s TraceMonkey, Apple’s SquirrelFish, Microsoft’s JScript, or Opera’s Futhark.

One of the key causative factors of this tug of war is the slow transition to cloud- based web application. In order to make an effective “desktop-like” user experience, most of the web applications utilize Java Script in plenty. Hence the speed of the browser to render the JavaScript (or ECMAScript) becomes more and more important.

The blog of jQuery creator John Resig, published in September, had put up an appreciable rating of the performance of various JavaScript engines. Though his results have become outdated now, one theme is still clear, that Opera’s Futhark engine came near the bottom of the pack, with Internet Explorer’s JScript engine.

Opera has now announced their upcoming edition of JavaScript and ECMAScript engine, called Carakan. According to the company, when Futhark was first released, it was one of the fastest ECMAScript engine on the market. This is no longer the case now as the web technology is changing day by day. Advancement in the field would require faster ECMAScript execution and hence it’s a real challenge to develop the best.

Carakan, the new discovery, makes improvements in three areas. One is the switch to a register-based bytechcode instruction set, which, according to the experts, will speed up things because by doing that only “fewer instructions need to be executed, and less data needs to be copied” making things easier. Carakan will also include native code generation for some of the ECMAScript programs and functions. It also does an automatic object classification.

Though Opera has not set any yardsticks to rate the performance of Carakan against the competition, SunSpider says that without any generated native code, this new application is about two and a half times faster than the current engine in Opera 10 Alpha.  The native code generation is not yet set for a broad spectrum bench marking, but according to some individual tests it has been found between 5 and 50 times faster, which is not too bad.

At present Opera has only .71% of the browser market. This has more or less stayed flat over the past year. While Opera has seen zero growth, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome have had significant growth. But we can see that Opera’s numbers are far higher on mobile devices, where a quick JavaScript performance is more important.

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