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‘Quantum Compositor’ Powers Faster And More Stable Firefox Browser

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

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Firefox for desktop also has two new themes and a redesigned permissions interface

Mozilla is showing off the effects of its Project Quantum initiative that was launched last year, saying it has resulted in a faster and more stable Firefox experience.

The aim of Project Quantum is to build “a next-generation browser engine that takes full advantage of modern hardware” and the latest Firefox release takes a significant first step along this journey.

Mozilla has added what it calls a “Quantum Compositor” to the browser, which the company says has reduced browser crashes by 10 percent.

Firefox

Quantum-powered

“We’ve now extracted a core part of our browser engine (the graphics compositor) to run in a process separate from the main Firefox process,” explained Nick Nguyen, vice president of product at Mozilla. “The compositor determines what you see on your screen by flattening into one image all the layers of graphics that the browser computes, kind of like how Photoshop combines layers.

“Because the Quantum Compositor runs on the GPU instead of the CPU, it’s super fast. And, because of occasional bugs in underlying device drivers, the graphics compositor can sometimes crash. By running the Quantum Compositor in a separate process, if it crashes, it won’t bring down all of Firefox, or even your current tab.”

The Quantum Compositor will be enabled for those on Windows 10, 8 and 7 on computers with graphics cards from Intel, Nvidia or AMD – around 70 percent of Firefox users.

But that’s not all Mozilla is announcing. Firefox for desktop now has two new themes: Compact Light, which shrinks the size of the browser’s user interface while maintaining the default colour scheme; and Compact Dark, which inverts colours so your eyes don’t strain when browsing in the dark.

There is also a redesigned interface for granting and maintaining website permissions. “Now, when you visit a website that wants to access sensitive hardware or send you a notification, you’ll be prompted with a dialog box that explicitly highlights the permissions that site is requesting,” Nguyen writes.

“If later on you would like to change a site’s permissions, just click the ‘i’ icon in the Awesome Bar.”

Mozilla recently marked September 2017 as the cut-off point for Windows XP and Vista support, shortly after releasing a privacy-focused browser called Firefox Focus to give users greater control over their data, block adverts and boost browsing performance.

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