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Futuremark, makers of 3DMark, have launched PeaceKeeper, the first comprehensive browser benchmarking suite.

The results are intriguing -- Apple's Safari and Google Chrome are the top browsers speed-wise. Windows 7 beats Windows Vista with similar hardware and the same browser version, but still lags behind OS X. And the hardware on the system, particularly the CPU dramatically influences results.  (Source: PeaceKeeper)
The makers of 3DMark take on the web

Mozilla, Apple, Google, Opera, and Microsoft all claim the same thing -- that their browser is the fastest.  So who is telling the truth? 

Until recently, that was a tough question to answer.  Sure there was a handful of free tests, such as SunSpider's JavaScript benchmark, Celtic Kane's JavaScript benchmark (a bit older), or the crude CSS benchmark posted on HowToCreate.  However, these tests all had one thing in common -- they did not fully test the browser's speed across a variety of rich-content standards.

FutureMark, makers of the popular 3DMark hardware benchmarking software, know all about how to provide a cohesive benchmarking suite.  So amid ongoing work on PCMark, 3DMark, and even a video game (Shattered Horizon), FutureMark decided to try to settle the browser bragging match once and for all by releasing a comprehensive test suite.

The result is the Peacekeeper benchmarking suite, which is now available as a free online applicationDailyTech had the pleasure of talking with FutureMark President Oliver Baltuch and learning more about this exciting new test, as well as some of its more interesting results.

Currently, the test covers page rendering using everything from HTML 5.0 to CSS.  It also includes a number of tests to gauge JavaScript performance with typical algorithms such as encrypts, filters, parses, sorts, and array manipulation.  DOM performance is also tested.  Currently, flash performance tests are not included.  Mr. Baltuch says that a second version is in the works "that would include more of the HTML 5.0 and something that works to measure flash performance as well as possibly power performance."

The core set of tests now simulate conditions that might be encountered on content-heavy pages such as YouTube, Facebook, or Meebo.  The results are intriguing.  For the same browser version tested across different OS implementations running on virtually the same hardware Mr. Baltuch states, "The Apple [computers] tend to be 5-10 percent faster [than Windows machines].  We believe that is based on the middleware of the OS.  We believe that it is more streamlined."

While OS X holds the speed lead, Mr. Baltuch noted that Windows 7 featured substantial gains over Windows Vista.  However, Internet Explorer 8.0, Microsoft's flagship browser remains much slower than the industry's speed-leading browsers -- Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari.  Mr. Baltuch comments, "Windows 7 is faster than Vista is.  But Internet Explorer 8.0 is 5 times slower than Chrome and Safari."

Despite Chrome and Safari being the fastest, Mr. Baltuch says he uses Opera 10.0 beta 2 for browsing because he likes the user interface and features the best.  He also praised Mozilla users for their very helpful feedback.  He says that some browser makers have embraced his company's efforts, while others remain standoffish.

He states, "Some seem to be happy.  The Norwegians (Opera) seem to hate us at the moment (FutureMark is Finnish).  The guys at Microsoft have been silent so far."

For those interested, Peacekeaper is funded by advertising revenue and is also funded by sales of consulting services to large businesses.  Also, the benchmark has helped to increased the adoption of FutureMark's paid products like PCMark, according to Mr. Baltuch.

A couple of final interesting notes.  Mr. Baltuch says that the test is compatible with the popular Apple iPhone.  He also notes that there is a large difference between web performance, going from a netbook processor (such as the Intel Atom) to a high-end desktop processor (such as the Intel Core i7).  This is due to the CPU's pivotal role in running increasingly heavy web applications.  He also says that for users looking to try something off the typical beaten path, the Epiphany (browser packaged with Gnome Linux), Shiira (Webkit-based), and Midori (also Webkit-based) browsers all provide relative good Linux browsing performance.

Mr. Baltuch says his company loves feedback, so feel free to head over to the Peacekeeper page, check it out, and leave your comments.

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I don't care so much...
By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 2:14:53 PM , Rating: 5
As to how fast a browser is versus how accurately it renders a page, how stable it is and how accessible and functional it is.

As far as stability is concerned, Safari is a stale turd. What a POS. While speed is great for some things, browsing is the last to come to mind.

RE: I don't care so much...
By sebmel on 8/10/2009 3:00:27 PM , Rating: 2
Is that Safari on Windows or Mac?

I have had it crash on me perhaps 3 times in the last three years on a Mac, so I can't corroborate your experience.

Having said that, I have heard another opinion that the Beta for Windows was not usable day to day... but nothing since. Anyone else out there tried out the Windows version?

XP, Vista, 7... opinions would be interesting.

RE: I don't care so much...
By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 3:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
On a Mac. The darned thing crashes all the time on my Wife's Macbook... and it has all the latest updates.

RE: I don't care so much...
By sebmel on 8/10/2009 3:47:58 PM , Rating: 1
OK, well you've got an issue on that computer then. I have seen this once before on MacBook Pro. A corrupted copy of Safari kept freezing.

Throw away the app preferences and see if this solves the issue.

If that doesn't cure the problem then you need to:

1. Download the app from Apple:
2. Export your bookmarks to the desktop
3. Delete the old app, it's prefs and any Safari folder in your home library and in home library/app support (such as Safari AdBlock).
4. Move contents of Internet Plug-Ins in the main Library to a folder on the desktop.
5. Install again from your downloaded version
6. Import bookmarks
7. Check it works
8. Add your plugins again, one at a time and check to see if any one is causing instability.

There's no way you need to accept instability from Safari. It's rock solid in a clean install.

RE: I don't care so much...
By 67STANG on 8/10/2009 4:07:00 PM , Rating: 5
Alternatively, you can:

1) Download FireFox

RE: I don't care so much...
By Chocobollz on 8/13/2009 4:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
Or better yet, Opera :-)

RE: I don't care so much...
By Griswold on 8/11/2009 2:37:11 AM , Rating: 3
I heard macs just work. They got no issues like that... was that a false claim? :p

RE: I don't care so much...
By TSS on 8/12/2009 1:43:37 AM , Rating: 2
Actually i've never seen an corrupted IE install either. talking 6,0 here.

Don't think i've even seen IE crash.... It's about as secure as a hoover dam made out of swiss cheese, but it doesn't crash that often.

Actually i've only seen firefox having a habbit of crashing, and that was alot of versions ago.

RE: I don't care so much...
By Chocobollz on 8/13/2009 4:35:03 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, no crash? Really? I can reproduce a lot of IE crashes right now by opening an MHT file with some Chinese characters on it, or if there was a "!" char on it. For example, "file!.mht". IE would hung and you'll need to "end task"-ing it. Not that it's matter, I'm just giving you an example :P

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