Mozilla Supercharges Firefox Browser With Project Quantum Rendering Engine

Mozilla is ready to overhaul the rendering engine that underlies its Firefox web browser, and it’s being developed under the name Project Quantum. Quantum is Mozilla’s latest effort to take down Google Chrome as the world’s most popular browser and fend off attacks from Microsoft Edge and Opera.

Quantum will take advantage of parallelism and harness the power of modern processors that power our numerous devices. David Bryant, Head of Platform Engineering at Mozilla, explains that the earliest browsers were designed to run on single-core processors, and that most of today’s browser still only take advantage of a single thread. Quantum, on the other hand, will fully utilize the quad- and even octa-core processors that are found in our smartphones and PCs. And where appropriate, some tasks will be handed off to the GPU.

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Quantum builds on the lessons learned from the Gecko rendering engine, and adds in components from the Servo community-based web engine. Bryant goes on to explain that many of the components that comprise Quantum were built using the “blazing fast” Rust systems programming language.

So what do all of these advancements mean for end-users? “Pages will load faster, and scrolling will be silky smooth,” says Bryant. “Animations and interactive apps will respond instantly, and be able to handle more intensive content while holding consistent frame rates. And the content most important to you will automatically get the highest priority, focusing processing power where you need it the most.”

In addition to Quantum, Mozilla is separately working on Electrolysis, which adds a multi-process architecture to Firefox similar in concept to what Google Chrome has employed for quite some time.

Mozilla will ship its new Quantum engine for a wide variety of platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. Bryant goes on to add, “Someday we hope to offer this new engine for iOS, too.” That “day” may never arrive as all browsers approved for use in iOS have to be based on Apple’s WebKit.