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Decision leaves Opera and Microsoft with the only 64-bit browsers, though Google will soon join the pack

Fans of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation have waited... and waited... and waited more still, for Mozilla's popular Firefox browser to add 64-bit support.  With pickup of 64-bit SKUs of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows operating system rapidly accelerating, it certainly seemed a 64-bit browser would be just around the corner.

Instead Mozilla has made the curious decision to pull the plug on the long-delayed project, while offering only small clues as to why the decision was made.

The announcement was posted by Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg on the Bugzilla development page.  He ordered Mozilla employees and community developers:

Please stop building windows 64 builds and tests.

As for why the he opted to pull the plug on 64-bit for now, he comments, "Many plugins are not available in 64-bit versions.  The plugins that are available don’t work correctly in Firefox because we haven’t implemented things like windowproc hooking, which means that hangs are more common."

Firefox laptop
Firefox 64-bit development is dead for now. [Image Source: Flickr/dimnikolov]

Mozilla may soon find itself in lonely territory.

With Oracle Corp.'s (ORCL) Java and Adobe Systems Inc.'s (ADBE) Flash now supporting 64-bit Windows plug-ins, both Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 and Opera Software ASA (OSE:OPERA) have made the leap to 64-bit.  Meanwhile Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Chrome, one of the most popular browsers due to its clean UI and strong GPU acceleration, has added 64-bit support in Linux and is in the process of porting its changes to Windows.

In other words, soon Mozilla may be the only browser maker without a 64-bit browser.

Of course, Windows compatibility libraries ensure 32-bit applications (like Firefox) can still run on 64-bit Windows.  But there is a small performance penalty associated.

For that reason one has to wonder whether Mozilla might come to regret its decision to halt development, even if it is only a temporary one.

Source: Bugzilla



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RE: No big deal, 64-bit browsers are useless
By vXv on 11/24/2012 7:32:35 PM , Rating: 3
> The truth is that performance tests clearly show that unless you are specifically using a 64 bit only feature, or need more then 2 GB of RAM.

Not sure what you mean by "64bit only feature" but every 64bit application benefits from the additional registers available when running on a x86_64 CPU.

> So yes, there are some performance benefits to 64 bit applications, but unless you are using a 64 bit feature extensively the extra cost in RAM and performance is not worth it.

It is actually the opposite the performance you lose due to the higher memory (and cache) footprint is negible compared to what you gain from the enhancement in the 64bit ISA.

For instance look at:
http://www.iinuu.eu/en/it-guru/windows-7-32-vs-64-...

Most cases where 32bit is faster are in the area of ~5% i.e hardly noticeable in real world apps. While the the test cases where 64bit is faster the performance gain approach up to 50%. That's a huge difference ... its like going from a 3GHz to a 4.5Ghz CPU (assuming linear scaling).

Or another test focusing on linux:
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item...

"The performance advantage of 64-bit over 32-bit Ubuntu is clear. If you are still running the 32-bit version on 64-bit capable hardware you should really consider switching"

So unless you are memory constrained (i.e your system is under memory pressure) you are better of running 64bit applications.

In addition to performance you'd benefit from enhanced security as well.


RE: No big deal, 64-bit browsers are useless
By Argon18 on 11/26/2012 11:56:01 AM , Rating: 2
It's funny, the only people claiming that 64-bit "isn't needed" are those running Windows. The one platform that lags behind all the rest in 64bitness. Lol.


RE: No big deal, 64-bit browsers are useless
By vXv on 11/26/2012 5:52:12 PM , Rating: 2
I am not using windows (OK I am not in the "no one needs 64bit camp" either) ... so there might be some truth in that ;)


By Argon18 on 11/27/2012 2:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
I know, I was agreeing with you.


By Trisped on 11/27/2012 10:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
Your support (http://www.iinuu.eu/en/it-guru/windows-7-32-vs-64-... is testing 1 version of a program in two operating systems. This would be like running Firefox in Windows 7 x86 and comparing the results to running Firefox in Windows 7 x64. In both cases the application is still 32 bit. The only differences (if any) will be the result of MS coding of 32 bit emulation on the Windows 7 x64 machine, but since they are the same binaries (you are not using the x64 binaries) there should be little noticeable difference.

The problem is that most companies already realize that 64 bit apps are easy (just change the compiler) but actually perform slower then 32 bit apps, so they do not bother releasing the 64 bit versions. This is why all major games which do not hit the RAM limitation do not have a 64 bit version available.

There are a number of situations where having more registers, larger address space, and 64 bit instructions can be advantageous. In these cases the code was rewritten to take better advantage of these features, resulting in modest to large performance benefits. Even so, these are more the exception then the rule.


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