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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

tablets and web performance

Benchmarks, and the results of running them, are attractive because they eliminate the need to digest an arbitrary complex machinery, reducing it into a meaningful and powerful number. Comparison is thereby made easier, as it is now a matter of playing who has the biggest gun game.

In the areas of web performance, every benchmark becomes more like durian, either you hate it or you love it. No matter how useful (or useless) a benchmark is, there are always folks who defend it and others who despise it. Signal-to-noise ratio changes dramatically when the discussion over some benchmark results is started.

I still reckon that in the years to come, what makes a great experience while browsing the web depends on the performance of (surprise!) DOM access. Common JavaScript frameworks (like jQuery, Prototype, Ext JS, MooTools, YUI, Dojo, and many others) still form the basis for a lot of rich web sites and interactive web applications out there, at least for the time being and till the near future.

While SunSpider and V8 benchmarks are geared towards pure JavaScript performance and Kraken is better suited for future heavyweight applications, Dromaeo becomes a solid candidate for DOM performance analysis. In particular, its set of DOM tests is very valuable because it presents a nice sample of the behavior of framework-based sites. In this context, butter-smooth DOM modification has a bigger impact than just blazing-fast trigonometric computation, at least for gajillions web pages out there.

Since more and more people are accessing the web through mobile platforms these days, I decided to test several popular tablets out there and summarize the result in one graph below (updated):

For the detailed comparisons, check out the complete Dromaeo numbers of all tablets (left-to-right: Galaxy Tab, iPad 2, Playbook, TouchPad). If you find the above result is different that what you test yourself, shout out. I want to be careful not to propagate any discrepancies or misleading results. As usual, take the above beautiful collection of colored bars with a pinch of salt.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is powered by Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) Build HMJ37, iPad 2 is using iOS 4.3.3, RIM Playbook's firmware is, which the HP TouchPad has webOS 3.0. The choice of the devices represent a variety of fresh ARM-based tablet operating systems in the market as of this writing.

With Qt coming closer and closer to the become a good companion of the green robot, I wonder how would QtWebKit compete with those numbers. I think we will find out the answer in a couple of months, maybe even sooner.


Girish Ramakrishnan said...

Do you have any numbers for the browser on the n950?

Ariya Hidayat said...

@Girish: Yes, but the numbers are reserved for smart phone comparisons.

Rob said...


I am the Anonymous commenter from July 26, 2011 10:44 PM and July 26, 2011 10:49 PM. I did not know I could post with a name, which I am doing now. I am not Anonymous from July 27, 2011 1:10 AM.

With that said I'd be happy to run the test on my webOS 3.0.0 TouchPad. I will figure out how to do that and start it as soon as possible. I'll post my results as soon as I'm done.