Google Chrome vs Firefox

Google Chrome vs Firefox

Google Chrome is an internet browser based on WebKit. Which is the same open source browser engine that’s being used by Apple Safari. Chrome also features a new JavaScript engine called V8.

The first beta version of Chrome for Windows was released in September last year, and the development team has been working on Linux and Mac ports since.

There is no Google Chrome for Linux yet, and the first beta version is probably still a few weeks away, but Google has been uploading development snapshots of Chromium for Linux since March. Chromium is the open source project behind Chrome and is basically Chrome without the Google branding. It has reached a point now where it’s useable and quite stable.

The first thing you’ll notice when using Chromium is that it’s quite fast and lightweight. To confirm the initial impression I selected a few browser benchmarks and compared Firefox 3.5b4 with Chromium. The new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine, that was supposed to regain the performance crown for Mozilla, is already enabled by default in the latest Firefox beta version. All tests have been run on an Acer Aspire One A110 with Intel Atom N270 processor.

The V8 Benchmark Suite is used by Google to finetune JavaScript performance. Firefox only scores 54 while Chromium scores 733, which certainly is impressive, despite not being a fair comparison.

A more neutral benchmark suite is the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark. The authors are the WebKit developers, but Mozilla also uses it for Firefox benchmarks. Chromium completes the tests in 38.20 seconds while Firefox needs 81.42 seconds. You can compare the Chromium results here, and the Firefox results here.

Futuremark Peacekeeper is probably the only benchmark suite that’s completely neutral, as all tests mimic functions commonly used by the most popular websites. Chromium scores 659 and Firefox 220 points. More details are in the screenshots below, but note that the bars use a different reference value and are a bit misleading.

The results confirm that Chromium is very fast. And it hasn’t even entered beta phase yet. Google further claims that no work on performance optimization has been done so far at all. The benchmarks do also not show other performance advantages Chromium has over Firefox. One such advantage is that Chromium, unlike Firefox, is multithreaded.

Once a final version is released Google Chrome should become the first choice for netbooks running Linux. What currently makes Firefox the browser of choice for many are useful extensions, which Google Chrome lacks. Google already announced plans to add support for extensions, but it’s probably still a few months away.

If you’re eager to try Chromium yourself, and are using a recent version of a major Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora, you can just use one of the unofficial repositories. Alternatively download the latest snapshot directly from Google here.