TraceMonkey already performs various benchmarks in 4.5 percent to 55 percent of the time taken by Firefox 3, and useful further improvements are thought possible.
Where a conventional compiler converts entire programs into machine code at the outset, JIT compilers convert sections of the source code that are executed often enough to make it worth the effort. This much of the performance of a full compiler without the initial overhead.
So where does SpiderMonkey get its speed? Please read on.
SpiderMonkey embodies research into trace trees carried out by Andreas Gal, a project scientist at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), who has been recently working with Mozilla during a leave of absence.
Gal provides an explanation of trace trees in his blog.
TraceMonkey is now part of the Firefox 3.1 development tree, but at this stage the existing SpiderMonkey engine remains the default.
Mason Chang, a graduate student at UCI, has compared the two subsystems on a wider range of benchmarks and concluded that TraceMonkey is about 15 percent faster than SquirrelFish at this stage.
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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.