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New low level JavaScript interpreter to boost WebKit performance more than 200%

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Apple's WebKit JavaScriptCore is now a "triple tier virtual machine," offering the potential for 2-2.5 times faster JavaScript performance in Safari.

Recent changes in Apple's WebKit open source project (used by Safari on OS X and iOS, and to power a wide variety of other browsers) include the incorporation of the efficient new LLInt (Low Level Interpreter), which is now used by JavaScriptCore (JSC) to attempt executing code before passing it to the standard interpreters, either the bytecode virtual machine or the JIT (Just In Time complier) which builds native machine code on the fly.

"JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot," a change report on the new interpreter describes.

"LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes)."

The new interpreter "is 2-2.5x faster than our old interpreter on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken [benchmarks]," the report states. "With triple-tiering turned on [to allow the LLInt to interpret code], we're neutral on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken, but appear to get a double-digit improvement on real-world websites due to a huge reduction in the amount of JIT'ing."

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

The LLInt enhancements to JavaScriptCore appear to have been contributed by Filip Pizlo, who joined WebKit as a reviewer in December after acting as a "major contributor" to improvements to the JavaScriptCore JIT and Garbage Collector. Pizlo filed a bug report in January noting that "JSC should be a triple-tier VM," and subsequently solved the issue by the end of February.

The new changes to JavaScriptCore will take some time to make it into the mainstream version of Safari, following similar WebKit enhancements of previous years. Enhancements in Apple's next release of Safari 5.2 have been profiled in reports describing its new user interface and sharing enhancements and new privacy settings and website alert features.




Improvements to Nitro in JavaScriptCore

In 2008, WebKit announced a rewriting of JavaScriptCore as a direct-dispatch register based, high-level bytecode virtual machine originally named SquirrelFish. It compiled JavaScript into native machine code. The project was later enhanced to gain the codename SquirrelFish Extreme.




In 2009, Apple applied the enhancements to Safari 4 under the brand "Nitro," noting that the new implementation could run JavaScript up to 4.5 times faster.

The next year, it subsequently released new SquirrelFish Extreme enhancements in Safari 5, boosting JavaScript performance on the Mac another 30 percent over the previous Safari 4.

Last year, the company added Nitro to mobile Safari in iOS 4.3, boosting JavaScript performance by 200 percent on Apple's mobile devices. However, a minor controversy ensued after it was found that iOS only used Nitro to accelerate web apps running in Safari; this resulted in a significant speed penalty when full screen web apps were saved to the home screen.

In iOS 5, Apple solved the security issues that prevented earlier releases from running full screen web apps using Nitro, although security measures still prevent apps that use UIWebView to present a web view from invoking Nitro.

Google's JavaScript competitors

Other WebKit browsers don't necessarily use JavaScript Core. Google's Chrome uses its own competing V8 JavaScript engine, for example.

V8 seeks to enhance performance by compiling JavaScript to native code before executing it. It was developed by a team led by Lars Bak, the programmer who developed Sun's Java ME virtual machine. After Oracle acquired Sun, it filed suit against Google for infringing patents related to virtual machines, including a patent filed by Bak while working for Sun.

JavaScript, which is related to Java in name only, was originally developed at Netscape as a way to add programatic interactivity to web pages (it was previously named LiveScript). JavaScript has since become a widely established open standard, sometimes referred to as ECMAScript, after the standards body that now manages it as a specification. Microsoft formerly supported its own vbscript, but has since backed interoperability on the web through the common use of JavaScript.

Google has recently sought to replace JavaScript with its own new web programming language named Dart (originally Dash), which was codeveloped by Bak. Apple, Mozilla and Microsoft have all opposed Google's plans to replace JavaScript with its own new language, preferring instead to continually improve upon JavaScript.

Mozilla's Brendan Eich, who developed the original JavaScript at Netscape, recently wrote, "I guarantee you that Apple and Microsoft (and Opera and Mozilla, but the first two are enough) will never embed the Dart VM," adding, "Google's approach with Dart is thus pretty much all wrong and doomed to leave Dart in excellent yet non-standardized and non-interoperable implementation status," and musing, "could Google, unlike Microsoft ten or so years ago, prevail? Only by becoming the new monopoly power on the web. We know how that story ends."

In a discussion about Dart in December, Apple's Oliver Hunt wrote, "Adding direct and exposed support for a non-standard language is hostile to the open-web by skipping any form "consensus" driven language development that might happen, and foisting whatever language we want on the web instead. This implicitly puts any browser that supports additional proprietary extensions in the same position as a browser supporting something like vbscript, and has the same effect: breaking the open web by making content that only works effectively in a single product."

Google's efforts to leverage Chrome to push its own preferred technologies rather than open standards has also occured with its own WebM video codec (as opposed to H.264) and a prioritization of Adobe's Flash (over HTML5) for delivering video and interactivity, particularly as a differentiating feature of its Android mobile platform.

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post #2 of 41
So Safari would be snappier?
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post #3 of 41
I worry about these LL interpreters from a security PoV.

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post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

1) I worry about these LL interpreters from a security PoV.

2) Despite WebM ownership and iffy legitimacy it's been a part of Safari for a long time.

Safari does not support WebM unless you install Google's plugins. Similar to Flash.
post #5 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

Safari does not support WebM unless you install Google's plugins. Similar to Flash.

Mea culpa! I know I didn't have any Google plugins installed but then I realized I have Perian installed.

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post #6 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

So Safari would be snappier?

Hopefully this works just as well on ARM as it does on i86. Javascript is a big deal and performance is always an issue.

I find it funny that they indicated that they get good results by limiting JIT because a year or two a go JIT compiling was all the rage. Talk about rapid evolution.
post #7 of 41
I know this is off topic but I say this purely in the context of the evaluation of Apple's latest offerings ... ... I just spent the day using Windows 8. OMG! ... Lipstick on a pig would be an understatement. Underneath those tiles is nothing but ... good old Windows dumbed down. I am truly shocked how horrible it is.

Apple is going to be a Trillion dollar company for sure!
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post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I know this is off topic but I say this purely in the context of the evaluation of Apple's latest offerings ... ... I just spent the day using Windows 8. OMG! ... Lipstick on a pig would be an understatement. Underneath those tiles is nothing but ... good old Windows dumbed down. I am truly shocked how horrible it is.

Apple is going to be a Trillion dollar company for sure!

Yeah, our FreshStart machines with 2000 still do everything we ever asked them too and no one complains because the start menu isn't flashy. And except for having to remind myself which version of Windows I'm peering at based on eye candy, I can't remember the last time I said "I'm so glad the new Windows does [fill in your favorite whizzy thing]"
post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpellino View Post

Yeah, our FreshStart machines with 2000 still do everything we ever asked them too and no one complains because the start menu isn't flashy. And except for having to remind myself which version of Windows I'm peering at based on eye candy, I can't remember the last time I said "I'm so glad the new Windows does [fill in your favorite whizzy thing]"

I was honestly expecting something new! I am totally amazed they think they can pass off the same old Windows as something new with a different Start Menu changed into these tiles and side bars. Once past that in fact it is far worse than 7 which I actually don't mind all that much when I have to use it.
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post #10 of 41
Just to be clear, 2x the speed is a 100% increase, not 200%. Still not bad though, so I look forward to getting Mountain Lion.
post #11 of 41
"JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot," a change report on the new interpreter describes.

"LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes)."


uhh, ok thanks for that useful info. Glad the old JIT won't be getting any cold code.
post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post

Just to be clear, 2x the speed is a 100% increase, not 200%. Still not bad though, so I look forward to getting Mountain Lion.

If not it will most likely be in Safari 5.3. Either way it does look like a very nice improvement.
post #13 of 41
Wow! Google is really starting to look and act like Microsoft of yesteryear. So much for the open web, when all the technology Google wants to use is their own proprietary stuff. Yes, they may freely license and open source it, but that doesn't mean at some point in the future they won't close it up, just as they're beginning to do with Android now.

Unfortunately for Google, I think everyone in the industry still remembers the toll Microsoft took on the web after the release of Internet Explorer 6. It's been over ten years and we're still feeling the hurt from it.

Anyway, It'll be nice if Apple would finally give us a non-Google maps app for iOS, then I can totally be rid of their services... well except YouTube.
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post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

Which means far better and faster rendered blinking ads to be "in your face." That makes it possible for AI to increase the amount of them too!

I can't wait. I'm trilled!! /s
post #15 of 41
Pizlo's Info: http://www.filpizlo.com/research.html

FYI: The major company he works for is Apple.

He's a Ph.D candidate in Computer Science from Purdue University.
post #16 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljocampo View Post

Which means far better and faster rendered blinking ads to be "in your face." That makes it possible for AI to increase the amount of them too!

I can't wait. I'm trilled!! /s

It means WebGL and WebCL performance gains considerably meaning a faster demise to Flash Games.
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

If not it will most likely be in Safari 5.3. Either way it does look like a very nice improvement.

Test it out in the Nightly.
post #18 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

"JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot," a change report on the new interpreter describes.

"LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes)."


uhh, ok thanks for that useful info. Glad the old JIT won't be getting any cold code.

Hehe, let me translate that for you:

The JIT is a component of the Javascript engine that can change code so it runs much faster.

But the change takes some time.

So, if you are gonna run something only once, it could actually take more time to change it to run faster AND then run it, than to just run it as it was.

So, the new engine is smart enough, to only try to make code faster if it is known that it will be run many times (ie it is "hot").

An analogy, if you are still confused:

A JIT is like a pit-stop for your racing car.

The pit-stop can make some changes that will make the car run faster, but it takes some time, during which you'll be off the race.

So, it only makes sense to stop there if there are lots of rounds still to be made, so you can "amortize" the time spend, not if you're one round before the end of the race.
post #19 of 41
It's a shame Apple pays so little attention to Safari on Windows. It feels foreign there. Safari really could have been what Chrome has become.
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morky View Post

It's a shame Apple pays so little attention to Safari on Windows. It feels foreign there. Safari really could have been what Chrome has become.

I don't think that was ever Apple's goal. I think (please correct meif wrong) there reason for that was a parallel move to eventually moving the iTunes Store in iTunes to being WebKit based.

Opening up WebKit was the brilliant move. The most important thing is that WebKit is used on more devices than any other browser engine. No longer will Safari on Apple devices not be supported by the internet at large... though I did come across a government site just last month that would only work in IE or Firefox.

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post #21 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I don't think that was ever Apple's goal. I think (please correct meif wrong) there reason for that was a parallel move to eventually moving the iTunes Store in iTunes to being WebKit based.

Opening up WebKit was the brilliant move. The most important thing is that WebKit is used on more devices than any other browser engine. No longer will Safari on Apple devices not be supported by the internet at large... though I did come across a government site just last month that would only work in IE or Firefox.

Exactly. Apple benefits from being part of open standards in things like this. Bragging rights to "our browser is used more than your browser" just isn't that big a deal. But being able to say that "our browser recognizes the entire Internet" is important.

My bank was one of the last hold-outs I've seen. Until last month, I had to use my Windows computer to access some functions of the bank's site, but they just updated it to work on Macs, as well.
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post #22 of 41
Google, this decade's Microsoft of last decade.
post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I don't think that was ever Apple's goal. I think (please correct meif wrong) there reason for that was a parallel move to eventually moving the iTunes Store in iTunes to being WebKit based.

Opening up WebKit was the brilliant move. The most important thing is that WebKit is used on more devices than any other browser engine. No longer will Safari on Apple devices not be supported by the internet at large... though I did come across a government site just last month that would only work in IE or Firefox.

Recall that Safari for Windows was released in 2007 alongside the iPhone. The goal was to open up an alternative to IE 6, so that sites would have some reason to use standards. Apple also wanted Windows users to be able to render pages with WebKit so they could deploy web apps on the iPhone. And there was some intent to help spread QuickTime and Bonjour.

As it turned out, the iPhone was bigger than expected and iOS is now the largest mobile platform, allowing Apple to dethrone Flash faster than expected. Apple doesn't need a Windows browser to spread QT (iTunes does that, thanks to the iPod) and cross platform use of Bonjour isn't Apple's primary focus anymore, given that its already ubiquitous, and that Apple can now create its own weather.

Additionally, Google released Chrome the following year, allowing Apple to focus on its own business while Google spent the resources to bring and update WebKit to Windows. Suddenly, half of the IE/Firefox world is now occupied by WebKit browsers, and Apple isn't even having to do all the work to maintain those.

Unlike iTunes, Apple wasn't making sales with Safari for Windows. Although Apple does get ad revenue from Google related to searches, probably similar to what Mozilla gets for Firefox (likely a proportional share of ~$50 million a year).

That makes Safari on Windows a low priority, given the opportunity costs of working on Safari for Mac and iOS. But there's also little reason for not making a Windows port available, given that Apple needs to keep WebKit up to date in a cross platform fashion anyway.
post #24 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

Recall that Safari for Windows was released in 2007 alongside the iPhone. The goal was to open up an alternative to IE 6, so that sites would have some reason to use standards. Apple also wanted Windows users to be able to render pages with WebKit so they could deploy web apps on the iPhone. And there was some intent to help spread QuickTime and Bonjour.

As it turned out, the iPhone was bigger than expected and iOS is now the largest mobile platform, allowing Apple to dethrone Flash faster than expected. Apple doesn't need a Windows browser to spread QT (iTunes does that, thanks to the iPod) and cross platform use of Bonjour isn't Apple's primary focus anymore, given that its already ubiquitous, and that Apple can now create its own weather.

Additionally, Google released Chrome the following year, allowing Apple to focus on its own business while Google spent the resources to bring and update WebKit to Windows. Suddenly, half of the IE/Firefox world is now occupied by WebKit browsers, and Apple isn't even having to do all the work to maintain those.

Unlike iTunes, Apple wasn't making sales with Safari for Windows. Although Apple does get ad revenue from Google related to searches, probably similar to what Mozilla gets for Firefox (likely a proportional share of ~$50 million a year).

That makes Safari on Windows a low priority, given the opportunity costs of working on Safari for Mac and iOS. But there's also little reason for not making a Windows port available, given that Apple needs to keep WebKit up to date in a cross platform fashion anyway.

Plus when they launched Safari on windows it was soooooo slow, everyone that used it quickly stopped again. Releasing a browser like that, you only have 1 opportunity and all windows users that tried it will never try it again.
post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Plus when they launched Safari on windows it was soooooo slow, everyone that used it quickly stopped again. Releasing a browser like that, you only have 1 opportunity and all windows users that tried it will never try it again.

That's more than a touch hyperbolic.
post #26 of 41
Javascript is one area where I do agree with the use of virtual machines, since the web is "the" cross-platform platform.

In the 2000s people got carried away with virtual machines and tried to put them in *everything.* And you had people like John Siracusa from Ars saying Apple was doomed if they didn't move ObjC to a VM.

But these days people realize "horses for courses." Microsoft are moving native apps back to Win64 and away from .NET, even as they continue to improve their Javascript VM. And how long before Google deprecates Java on Android for in favor of something native, even as they improve V8?
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

Recall that Safari for Windows was released in 2007 alongside the iPhone. The goal was to open up an alternative to IE 6, so that sites would have some reason to use standards. ...

Um-m-m, no. The primary reason for releasing Safari for Windows was that Apple recognized that it was leaving money on the table by not having Safari on Windows. It had absolutely nothing to do with promoting QuickTime. QuickTime had been ported to Windows more than a decade earlier. It received a huge boost with the port of iTunes to Windows because iTunes brings QuickTime along for the ride.

You appear to be asserting that Apple and Google are collaborating with Google taking the lead in bringing WebKit to Windows leaving Apple to concentrate on MacOS X. This is fantasy. If Apple and Google were working together, then it would make no sense for Google to bifurcate HTML5 support with Google opting for its proprietary WebM media format. WebM is supported by Mozilla, Opera, and Google, but not by Apple. And yes, Google is very actively developing Chrome for MacOS X. Apple is very actively developing Safari for Windows. There is simply no evidence to support the division of labor that you fantasize about.

As for Bonjour, you have to be kidding. Bonjour dramatically eases the installation of certain printers on Windows. However, I am aware of no purchasing decision of any kind that is based on Bonjour for Windows.
post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

WebM is supported by Mozilla, Opera, and Google, but not by Apple.

I hope Apple does eventually support WebM to avoid getting left flatfooted by YouTube's conversion to WebM. Everyone and their uncle has announced support for it except Apple and Microsoft. Users can install third party software that offers support on Mac and Windows but plugins are not allowed on iOS so there is nothing users can do to enable WebM on their i-devices.

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post #29 of 41
Apple looks like they are trying their best to throw up roadblocks to WebM. Commitments to open standards and the W3C be damned.

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011...-wide-web.html
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post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I hope Apple does eventually support WebM to avoid getting left flatfooted by YouTube's conversion to WebM. Everyone and their uncle has announced support for it except Apple and Microsoft. Users can install third party software that offers support on Mac and Windows but plugins are not allowed on iOS so there is nothing users can do to enable WebM on their i-devices.

Apple is backing Vimeo in Mountain Lion. I see no traces of YouTube anywhere. I would expect the YouTube app to be replaced, perhaps with Vimeo, in iOS 6.

I don't Apple including WebM at this point is an issue. iOS-based devices are still on par with Android OS-based devices in unit sales but even if we count only smartphones there seems to be a huge discrepancy about data usage between the iPhone and Android-based smartphones. It's almost like Android-based smartphones aren't being used much for their internet capabilities in comparison to the iPhone.

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post #31 of 41
Forget WebM, HEVC is the future anyway.

Let WebM be the MicroDVI of video formats.
post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Apple looks like they are trying their best to throw up roadblocks to WebM. Commitments to open standards and the W3C be damned.

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011...-wide-web.html

That's a bullshit argument. Not supporting everything that masquerades as an open standard doesn't mean you are against open standards. There is still a lot of doubt that WedM won't have legal issues. Should Apple add support and then get sued because it didn't do its due diligence and take the necessary precautions? What is gained by Apple supporting every open standard that crops up?

Let's not forget that Apple opened up WebKit which is by far the most installed browser engine in the world. They are committed to an open and unified web because it helps their bottom line. Google on the other hand is using WebM to fracture the web because it helps there bottom line. There is no altruism here. Google isn't using WebM because it's free and open, they are using it to as a power play to gain more control for web video under the guise of being open... which is what they are doing with Android.

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post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

What is gained by Apple supporting every open standard that crops up?

You are absolutely right. There's much more to be gained by withholding a few patents deemed essential to a developing standard.

With the W3C (not Google) claiming the patents may not be able to be worked around if valid, and are therefor essential, imagine the club that Apple could have at it's disposal. They can use standards-essential patents in a lawsuit without technically breaking their pledge not to use them as weapons since they won't contribute them. Best of both worlds!
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post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Apple looks like they are trying their best to throw up roadblocks to WebM. Commitments to open standards and the W3C be damned.

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011...-wide-web.html

Which part of the 'Open Standards' phrase don't you understand? WebM is neither.

Not to mention, of course, the patent issues that need to be resolved.
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post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Which part of the 'Open Standards' phrase don't you understand? WebM is neither.

Not to mention, of course, the patent issues that need to be resolved.

It's been proposed as part of a free unencumbered open-standards video codec if I understand correctly. The "patent-issues" to be resolved are with the license-for-pay H.264 standard, of which Apple is a major partner along with Microsoft isn't it? Google is addressing their unspecific patent threat with agreements between WebM proponents not to sue each other over video standards.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20056579-264.html

But with that said, thank you for sending me back to research a bit more carefully to understand that the current issue with Apple and the W3C is not over WebM. Much appreciated. Whether it was clear from my posts or not, I was mistaken in what part Apple is playing with WebM.
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post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

Wow! Google is really starting to look and act like Microsoft of yesteryear. So much for the open web, when all the technology Google wants to use is their own proprietary stuff. Yes, they may freely license and open source it, but that doesn't mean at some point in the future they won't close it up, just as they're beginning to do with Android now.

As opposed to Apple's use of Facetime and Airplay instead of already existing open standards? Where's the difference? And Google isn't truly closing up Android. It's attempting to head off fragmentation, you know that thing every Apple fan site screams will be the death of Android.

And since JavaScript is such a major portion of the web and has a dramatic affect on page performance, maybe it's time to consider replacements that may provide better performance. Other than fanboy allegiances, why does it matter where that new standard would come from?
post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

As opposed to Apple's use of Facetime and Airplay instead of already existing open standards?

I don't think there is any open standard that can do what AirPlay does, and FaceTime is mostly a collection of proprietary standards to transmitting audio and video in real time.

Samsung is working on an AirPlay competitor that could work since they do offer phones, tablets, PCs and TVs.

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post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

As opposed to Apple's use of Facetime and Airplay instead of already existing open standards?

The only Airplay-like standard I know of is DNLA. And it doesn't work. The files have to be in exactly the right format, or they won't be in sync, will be blocky or just won't work at all. Files that work on one TV mightn't work on another from a different manufacturer. It's a real mess. At least with Airplay it works pretty much all the time.

I'm not aware of any open standard that is similar to FaceTime, care to link any?
post #39 of 41
Does current webkit have this performance boost
post #40 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdog View Post

Does current webkit have this performance boost

It does not, nor does Safari 5.2. I imagine it won't come until 5.3 or later, if at all.
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