Chrome 59 sticks a Turbofan and a new Ignition on its V8

If that headline has left you scratching your head, don't worry—I wouldn't have gotten it 12 hours ago. The short version is that Chrome 59 comes with upgraded parts for its V8 JavaScript engine. The Ignition interpreter and TurboFan optimizing compiler have both been part of V8 for a while, but now the stewards of Chrome have decided that the new parts are ready for prime-time.

Google's Chrome web browser owes a lot of its popularity to the stellar performance of the V8 JavaScript engine for rendering script-heavy websites like Facebook and Gmail. Since 2010, V8 has used the "Full-codegen" baseline compiler and an optimizing compiler called Crankshaft to work its magic. Those components were quite capable, but like any old codebase, they've been manipulated and extended far beyond their original design intentions and became tricky to improve and difficult to maintain. The V8 team says that by replacing Full-codegen and Crankshaft with Ignition and Turbofan, V8 will become faster and easier to adapt as new Javascript features emerge over time.

That's great for the engine's developers, but what about end-users? Well, we get to enjoy the fruits of the V8 team's labors, too. According to the V8 Project's blog, Chrome 59 can be 30% faster running Javascript on a Nexus 5X, compared to the previous release. The gains on faster machines are less profound, but the V8 blog still shows a Linux desktop (of unspecified hardware) finishing up to 10% faster than the previous version. The post provides some synthetic numbers too; the new V8 core improves Speedometer and AcmeAir performance by around 10%. To top if off, RAM consumption while running Javascript is decreased—the Chrome teams says that V8 should use 5% to 10% less memory on "desktop and high-end mobile devices."

If you use Chrome, hit your "About Google Chrome" option in the browser's Help menu to ensure you're on version 59, or to ask your browser to update if you aren't. Even if you don't use Chrome, the V8 Javascript engine is also found in Opera, Vivaldi, Couchbase, Node.js, and the Electron framework, so these changes are probably coming to a PC or a server near you.

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