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Mozilla Open Source Effort Accelerates Browsers for Gaming and More

New open source asm.js effort gets a major boost from Epic Games and the end result could impact enterprise users for all browsers.

Gaming is among the most resource-consuming and complex of all computing tasks. Historically gaming has been the realm of native code running on bare metal operating systems, but thanks to a new effort from Mozilla, real gaming via a web browser is now a reality.

Mozilla today announced that it has been working with producer Epic Games, maker of the Unreal Engine for game development (UDK). The joint effort has enabled UDK-built games to run inside a web browser. The effort leverages the asm.js JavaScript library as well as the open source emscripten cross compiler.

Vladimir Vukicevic, Engineering Director at Firefox and inventor of WebGL, explained to Datamation that gaming is an important target for the web platform. The importance only increases for Mozilla's FirefoxOS mobile effort, which is set for full release this year.

At the core of Mozilla's effort to enable gaming and faster performance on all web browsers is the asm.js JavaScript project. With asm.js, code runs faster than without it at near native code speeds.

In its joint effort with Epic Games, Mozilla used the emscripten compilier to bring UDK to JavaScript, which is then accelerated with asm.js.

"The web is ready for games and you can get the performance that developers eed and expect," Vukicevic said.

Emscriptem is local cross compiler that takes C code and turns it into JavaScript that can run in any web browser. Brendan Eich, CTO of Mozilla and inventor of JavaScript, explained to Datamation that emscriptem can enable developers to transition to a new type of development that is web friendly.

Martin Best, Games Platform Strategist at Mozilla, explained to Datamation that the asm.js code really uses the core aspects of the JavaScript language. He noted that even if a browser does not support asm.js, developers still end up with extremely efficient code. The asm.js code is currently set to be included in the Firefox 22 release. As an open source project, the code can potentially be included by any browser vendor that chooses to do so.

The engagement with Epic Games is a non-commercial effort for Mozilla. Vukicevic stressed that his team focuses on emscriptem. The benefit to Mozilla is that it gets real-world test cases for the tool and the power of JavaScript for the web.

"We're out to support the web for the user," Eich said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.




Tags: open source, Linux, gaming, Mozilla Firefox


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