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The WebKit team has been busy. Publicly announcing a brand new JavaScript engine release, amusingly named SquirrelFish Extreme (nicknamed SFX), they're already boasting performance gains twice as fast as their prior release: SquirrelFish. SquirrelFish Extreme is an amalgam of improvements to the JavaScript engine that powers WebKit, made over the course of the last couple months, combined with a brand new form of property caching and a just-in-time compilation.

What's interesting about this milestone is that most of the hard foundation-laying work was done back in the original release of SquirrelFish with the addition of a virtual machine to the existing JavaScriptCore engine. The WebKit team alluded to the potential that this held in their original blog post but we can now see that come to fruition.

A large part of the raw performance gains included in this release relate to optimizations of the existing virtual machine bytecode-especially in the realm of JavaScript function calls. With this SquirrelFish virtual machine in place, the development team began to explore all that was possible with it, focusing heavily on the areas that could see the most improvement. Many of the bytecodes are now being dynamically translated into native machine code-currently only on x86 32-bit architectures-which is providing the rest of the performance-related improvements.

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