Mozilla and Samsung Team Up on Servo, a Next-Generation Web Browser Engine

Servo is designed with multi-core processors in mind

By on April 3rd, 2013 15:37 GMT

Mozilla has its hands busy, particularly for such a small outfit. It's busy bringing Firefox to Android, with limited success, it's busy launching its own mobile operating system (we'll see how that goes) and it's got several other smaller projects on the sidelines.

But one of the biggest, at least in terms of importance, is the relatively unknown Servo, a next-generation browser engine designed to eventually replace Gecko, used in Firefox.

Mozilla hasn't said much about Servo, since it's still in the experimental stages, but it's talking now that it's gotten together with Samsung to bring the engine to Android and ARM devices.

"We've recently begun collaborating with Samsung on an advanced technology Web browser engine called Servo," Mozilla explained.

"Together we are bringing both the Rust programming language and Servo, the experimental web browser engine, to Android and ARM," it said.

"This is an exciting step in the evolution of both projects that will allow us to start deeper research with Servo on mobile," it added.

As for Samsung’s role in all of this, the company has contributed the ARM backend for the Rust programming language, an important component, and the infrastructure needed to cross compile for Android.

Mozilla started working on Rust years ago, there's now a healthy community around the programming language.

Likewise, Servo, which is built with Rust, has been in the works for a while, Samsung got involved well after things got moving.

But now that it's involved, it looks like Samsung is determined to make an impact. Apart from the components detailed earlier, Mozilla talks of several other Samsung contributions to both Servo and Rust.

Rust is a low level programming language designed with safety in mind, perfect for a web browser. Likewise, Servo was designed to make the most out of the multi core processors and multiple processing units that power most devices today.

Samsung's latest Galaxy S4 comes with an eight-core processor, plus a dedicated GPU with several parallel processing units. Nivida's Tegra 4 comes with a quad-core processor and a 72-core GPU.

This while browsers, HTML engines and the web itself have all been largely built with sequential single processes in mind.

The need for a proper multi-core engine for the web is clear, though it will be a while before Servo ends up in any shipping browser.
Mozilla has been working on Rust for a few years now
   Mozilla has been working on Rust for a few years now
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