Firefox 89 offers more speed – Today’s Firefox 90 adds SmartBlock 2.0

Enlarge / The internet’s red panda just keeps getting better.

Today, Mozilla launched Firefox 90. Latest version of Mozilla’s increasingly privacy-focused browser adds improved PDF print functionality, individual exceptions to HTTPS-only mode, a page about from: third-party to help identify compatibility issues introduced by party apps and a new SmartBlock feature that strengthens protection against cross-site tracking while ensuring site connections always work.

There is also a new Background Updater for Windows, which allows a small background application to check for, download, and install Firefox updates when the browser is not running. execution.

SmartBlock 2.0

The latest version of Mozilla’s built-in SmartBlock privacy feature makes it easier for users to maintain their Tracking Protection settings, without breaking individual websites. The updated version seems to target Facebook login in particular, which is increasingly used on the web as a third-party authentication and login tool.

Firefox blocks Facebook scripts by default because Mozilla’s partner, Disconnect, (correctly) identifies Facebook domains on its list of known third-party trackers. Unfortunately, blocking Facebook scripts also meant breaking third-party Facebook connections, for example, the Facebook login feature found on

With SmartBlock 2.0, Facebook scripts are disabled on third-party sites as before, but when the user clicks on the “Continue with Facebook” option, this specific and deliberate user interaction with the Facebook script causes Unblocking of SmartBlock 2.0. The unblocking occurs just in time for the Facebook authentication login to succeed, without the user needing to set their tracking protection settings.

Faster Firefox

Mozilla’s internal metrics show significant speed improvements in 2021 – last month’s Firefox 89 is 10-30% faster than previous versions, according to Mozilla’s own tests. Specifically, the Mozilla team mentions improvements in the following areas:

  • Typing in the URL bar or in document editors (e.g. Google Docs, Office 365)
  • Open a site menu (like the File menu in Google Docs)
  • Keyboard controls in browser-based video games

In order to discuss performance goals and gains more concretely, Mozilla defines three levels of browser responsiveness: instantaneous, perceptible lag, and jank, with maximum latency thresholds of 50 ms and 1000 ms for the first two. Mozilla specifies that jank Not only does a longer delay mean, but the entire site – and in the worst case, the browser’s own user interface – becomes unusable for more than a second at a time.

Impressively, Firefox 89 manages a instantaneous response to events more than 40% of the time, compared to only 30% in Firefox 86.


For instantaneous answer, the calculations made by the browser itself are not the only problem – no matter how fast the browser produces new data, the user cannot actually perceive it until the monitor displays it. . With a typical monitor refresh rate of 60Hz, that means a new image is displayed roughly every 17ms, giving the browser only three images to hit the 50ms goal for that level of response. .

In earlier versions of Firefox, user input would occur on frame 0, and the “painting” process in which the browser draws new content would then occur on frame 1 — leaving the composition (when the new painted content is actually passed to the operating system and displayed on the user’s monitor) which occurs at frame 2 at the earliest. These are the three frames that we can hold within the 50ms timeframe set by Mozilla for instantaneous reply!

Starting with Firefox 89, an update to the Firefox paint pipeline suggested by Markus Strange significantly improves the situation. paintcan occur during the same frame as user input, making compositing possible an earlier picture. This makes the reactive interaction maximally around 17ms faster than before – a solid third of self-imposed instantaneous the window.

Low but noticeable lag

The majority of noticeable browser lag is caused by time spent in JavaScript code, often because JavaScript engine developers spend more time playing synthetic benchmarks than optimizing for actual web applications and frameworks.

Targeting commonly used websites allows Mozilla to better investigate performance issues in SpiderMonkey, Firefox’s JavaScript engine. Experimenting to improve performance on actual websites rather than referrals led to improved table iterators, which increased performance from Firefox 89 onwards.

Mozilla’s forecast continued the significant improvements in SpiderMonkey throughout 2021, noting better object structure architecture and faster for-of loops as two examples. Ted Campbell, Iain Ireland, Steve Fink, Jan de Mooij and Denis Palmeiro receive thanks from Mozilla for their many contributions to SpiderMonkey’s performances.


The craziest but most hilarious Mozilla performance category, jank, gets its own set of improvements, including a new Background Hang Reporter. Thanks in part to the hard work of Florian Quèze and Doug Thayer, Mozilla now gets special telemetry information when browser performance increases, including core thread stack traces commonly seen in Firefox’s parent process.

The new tool already brings information and performance improvements. For example, Mozilla found that accessibility features were turned on unnecessarily for most Windows users with a touchscreen. Accessibility features are critically important to users who need them, but they represent significant extra work for the browser when they are active.

Thanks in part to the help of James Teh, the number of users with unnecessary accessibility features enabled has decreased significantly, and the number of crash reports has also decreased.

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