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Firefox 3.6 alpha tested: Fastest Firefox ever

This weekend, Mozilla unleashed an early version of Firefox 3.6. We've tested it, and not only is it the fastest Firefox ever, it's almost as fast the first version of Google Chrome

This weekend, Mozilla unleashed an early version of Firefox 3.6. It's not ready yet for Mr and Mrs Average Joe, but our benchmarks show it's now almost as fast the first version of Google Chrome. That, friends, is quite an achievement.

A blog post from Mozilla said the main focus for Firefox 3.6 "will be end-user perceived performance," and in line with this we found the new version was just over 10 per cent faster than the current version, Firefox 3.5.

Codenamed Namoroka, version 3.6 completed the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in 1,276ms on a 2.0GHz Intel MacBook with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and scores 94/100 on the Acid3 standards-compliancy test. Firefox 3.5, however, currently takes 1,428ms on the same machine and scores 93/100.

Firefox versions compared


This should be of interest to you because JavaScript performance is more important than ever. Sites such as Facebook and many popular Web-based email applications rely heavily on JavaScript technologies to make pages load instantly, or to allow parts of Web pages to reload dynamically without a user needing to refresh the entire page.

The current world leader in JavaScript performance is Google's Chrome 3.0 browser, which is currently in beta and only available on Windows machines. It completes the SunSpider benchmark in 688ms.

Firefox 3.6 should be released "in a small number of months," says the Mozilla blog. If you're feeling brave you can download the developer version here.