Firefox Quantum delivers significant speed improvements

Olive Hawkins
November 14, 2017

Mozilla today announced the public release of the latest update to its Firefox browser called Quantum boasting that it's twice as fast as the previous version of its open-source browser. Photon doesn't just look good, it's also smarter.

Firefox has also changed the default search provider to Google in the United States and Canada.

Called Firefox Quantum, this release is the culmination of months of work, including a recent beta test, meant to make Firefox speedier and more attractive. Quantum will leverage the fearless concurrency of Rust and high-performance components of Servo to bring more parallelization and GPU offloading to Firefox. That performance increase is complemented by an architecture upgrade that, according to the company, uses 30% less memory than Google Chrome.

The new Firefox Quantum can be downloaded on Windows, Mac or Linux over here. The Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play and the iOS version (which is usually updated separately from the other platforms) should eventually arrive on Apple's App Store. The redesign is part of a larger Mozilla initiative called Photon, an effort by the company to unify and modernize the appearance of everything Firefox.

According to Mozilla's benchmark tests, Quantum is twice as fast as Firefox 52.

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Mozilla's engineers totally rebuilt the core engine, giving it brand new "guts", and interacting with 7 million lines of code in the process.

The improved experience comes from a multitude of improvements under the hood, such as the new CSS engine, Stylo, that takes better advantage of today's hardware with multiple cores that are optimized for low power consumption.

"To create Photon, our user research team studied how people browsed the web", wrote Mozilla's Mark Mayo. "Our designers created a system that scales to more than just current hardware but lets us expand in the future". If you use Quantum on a Windows PC with a touch display, the menus change size based on whether you click with a mouse or touch with a finger.

Firefox 57 introduces a revamped user interface that introduces several new features, including square tabs, "smooth" animations, as well as a Library that provides quick access to anything the user saves such as bookmarks, Pocket, history, downloads, tabs and screenshots.

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