The Performance Edge: Netscape 4.76 Now Supports Mac OS Runtime for Java But Is it Worth Using?

We recently ran a series of tests on Web browsers for the Mac. These tests included benchmarks of common functions: downloading, page rendering, scrolling etc. One of the tests was Java performance where Netscape fell seriously behind the competition, performing 5 times as slow. The latest incarnation of Netscape, version 4.76, added the option of using Mac OS Runtime for Java, or MRJ for short. By default, Netscape still uses its own Java implementation. To use MRJ (currently at version 2.2.3) you will need to download MRJ from the Apple site as well as the required MRJ plugin off the Mozilla site. The plugin, at version 1.0b1 as of this writing, is functional but not officially supported. We ran several Java applets in addition to the test applet without a hitch. If you do find a bug with the beta plugin you can file a report on the Bugzilla site. To use the plugin you simply check the appropriate box in the "advanced" preference panel.

To perform our Java benchmarks, we used the online test CaffeineMark 3.0 from Pendragon Software. CaffieneMark tests 9 different aspects of the Java virtual machine, returning scores based on the number of instructions executed within a given time limit. Visit this page for specific information on each test. The results of these tests are posted below along with the final score assigned by CaffieneMark. Our tests were run an a Wallstreet PowerBook with a Newer Technology G3/466 upgrade card installed. Look for a review of this card in the near future. The PowerBook has 128MB RAM installed and is running OS 9.0.4, MRJ 2.2.3 and the MRJ plugin 1.0b1.

We ran CaffeineMark three times for each configuration and averaged the resulting scores. We then made the scores relative to the MRJ 2.2.3 setup which was assigned a score of 100%. Higher scores are better for all tests and, as you can see below, MRJ 2.2.3 easily bested the other setups on all tests. While we didn't expect any significant differences, we tested Netscape 4.75 for the sake of comparison. Post your comments on these scores below.

CaffeineMark 3.0 Test Scores










Actual CaffeineMark 3.0 Scores - Averaged

Test Netscape 4.75 Netscape 4.76 Netscape 4.76 - MRJ 2.2.3
Seive 2,585 2,543 8,091
Loop 3,534 3,539 23,940
Logic 3,563 3,481 85,117
String 1,048 983 13,888
Float 2,577 2,570 10,819
Method 2,137 2,141 6,299
Graphics 522 496 631
Image 153 150 348
Dialog 323 327 6,065
CaffieneMark 3.0 Score 1,188 1,172 6,499