Google Unveils New Octane Benchmark Suite for JavaScript Refinement

Version 2 of Octane adds new capabilities and features to give Web developers more information as they work to create faster Website code.

Google has released a new version of its Octane Benchmark Suite that helps Web developers measure a browser's performance when running complex and demanding Web applications used by Internet visitors each day.

The new Octane Benchmark Suite Version 2.0 was unveiled by Hannes Payer, a Google software engineer, in a Nov. 6 post on the Chromium Blog. The suite was originally released in August 2012 and is now being updated with new measurement capabilities that will help developers speed up their JavaScript code even more, wrote Payer.

"We created the Octane Benchmark Suite to measure how JavaScript engines perform on tasks that matter to users as well as motivate our own performance work on the V8 JavaScript engine," he wrote. "Today, we're releasing version 2.0 of the suite including a new focus on reducing latency, new benchmarks that target use cases like asm.js and updates to existing benchmarks."

Asm.js is a widely optimizable, low-level subset of JavaScript, according to the group's Website.

"Traditional benchmarks simply measure how quickly JavaScript can be executed," wrote Payer. "Octane 2.0 additionally measures latency, which is another important aspect of performance that is concerned with the smoothness of execution. In modern JavaScript engines like V8, latency comes from two main sources: compiling JavaScript to machine instructions so it can run faster, and garbage collecting memory that is no longer used. These tasks are computationally intensive and if they run for too long can be visible to users as small hiccups and freezes of JavaScript programs."

To reduce those kinds of delays, the latest version of Octane now includes a "modified version of our Mandreel and Splay benchmarks to measure how well JavaScript engines can minimize these pauses," wrote Payer.

Also added are two new performance tests, including a test based on the Typescript compiler from Microsoft, which is a heavy and complex JavaScript application, according to Payer. "Its execution stresses raw execution speed, code parsing and the memory subsystem. We've also included the zlib benchmark, an asm.js test from the Mozilla Emscripten suite. Both new benchmarks help measure an engine's ability to deal with heavy and complex workloads, which are increasingly common in today's Web applications."

The new Octane also includes fixes for three existing benchmarks to refine their target measurements, he wrote. They are Regexp, which verifies that Regexp calculations give the correct results; GameBoy Emulator, which will now actually run in the strict mode it was originally designed to run in; and CodeLoad, which makes sure that the code load is different on every iteration, wrote Payer.

"Octane 2.0 represents one more step in our continuing quest to deliver the best possible performance for users," he wrote. "You can run Octane 2.0 in your browser or read the documentation for an in-depth look at the new benchmarks."

Octane was introduced originally because the constantly evolving Web demands new JavaScript benchmarks that measure its performance, according to Google. Older JavaScript benchmarks only ran tests on specific JavaScript features, instead of running tests on multiple features at once. Octane broke with the JavaScript benchmark tradition and extends the former Google V8 Benchmark Suite with five new benchmarks created from full, unaltered, well-known Web applications and libraries, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Besides an expanded set of benchmarks, Octane also has an interface that makes it easier to read and that adapts automatically to tablet and mobile screens.