Multi-process Firefox project nears completion of first phase
Mozilla is nearing a production release of a multi-process Firefox, the "largest change we've ever made to Firefox," a company product manager said this week.
"If all goes well in our beta testing, we're about 6 weeks away from shipping the first phase of e10s to Firefox release users with the launch of Firefox 48 on August 2," wrote Asa Dotzler, the product manager in charge of the Firefox roadmap, in a Monday post to his personal blog.
"This is a huge change for Firefox, the largest we've ever shipped," Dotzler added.
Electrolysis, or "e10s" for short, is Mozilla's long-running project to bring multiple processes to Firefox, a fundamental design change that should boost the browser's performance and make it more stable.
Electrolysis harks back to 2009, when Mozilla first began talking about, and working on, a multi-process Firefox.
On the performance side, multiple processes can take advantage of multi-processor systems. Stability is improved as separating rendering from content prevents the browser from crashing when a website or app falls. And when combined with sandboxing, the design can also serve as an anti-hacker obstacle: If attackers manage to exploit a specific page's content or an app, they should not be able to compromise the browser and gain access to the underlying system and files.
Other browsers, including Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome, have implemented multiple processes, albeit in different ways. Safari, for instance, relies on a single process for the rendering engine, then spawns a new process for each tab's content. On the other hand, Chrome assigns a new rendering process, not just the content, to each new tab. As a general rule, the Chrome method uses more device memory than the Safari model.