Multi-process support in Firefox gets closer to reality

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Mozilla has made dramatic improvements when it comes to speed in recent times, but one feature its Firefox browser notably lacks compared to Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 8 is multi-process browsing. As we’ve mentioned before, there are several benefits of having each page or tab run in a separate process, not the least of which are performance gains when using multiple processor cores and the added stability.

We already know Mozilla has begun a four-plus phase project, dubbed Electrolysis, to bring the feature to Firefox. So, how far along are they? According to the project roadmap, just about done with phase 1, which is to get basic code working in a prototype that runs plug-ins and content tabs in separate processes. In fact Mozilla's Chris Jones posted a video last month that shows how a page rendering process can be terminated independently, so that a page-specific crash would take down only the page and not the entire browser.

To accomplish this, Mozilla is using some code from Chromium, the open source development version of Google's browser. They are also contemplating the possibility of replacing existing Firefox components, such as the browser's network stack, with additional code from Chromium. Development team leader Benjamin Smedberg had has posted some additional information on the project, which is expected to conclude phase 2 by November 2009. The end of phase 3 should be synonymous with shipping, but a deadline was not offered for it at this time.

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