Silverlight 4 vs Silverlight 3: a little bit faster?

Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie spoke of “twice as fast performance” in the newly-released Silverlight 4, thanks to a new just-in-time compiler.

Performance is a hard thing to nail down. Maybe he meant that compilation is twice as fast? I’m not sure; but I tried a couple of quick tests.

First, I looked at my Primes test. Version 3 running in Windows Vista took around 0.40 seconds (the exact figure varies on each run, thanks to background processes or other factors). I then upgraded to version 4.0. No significant difference, on average over several runs. I used Vista because I’d already upgraded my Windows 7 install.

Next I tried Bubblemark. I maxed it out at 128 bubbles. On Vista with Silverlight 3 I got about 240 fps; on the same machine with Silverlight 4 about 260fps; about 8%.


Next I tried on an Apple Mac. My Mac Mini is less powerful, though not that bad, an Intel 1.83 Ghz Core Duo. On the Prime test I got 0.54 secs before, and 0.50 secs after the upgrade to 4.0, about 7.5% improvement. On Bubblemark, it was only 24 fps before and after.

I guess the vast difference in graphics performance is also interesting. It is not just Mac vs Windows; the Nvidia GeForce 6800 on the PC is more powerful than whatever is in the Mac Mini.

If anyone can tell me in what respect version 4.0 is twice as fast, I’d be grateful.

Update: prompted by the comment from David Heffernan below, I also tried the Encog Silverlight Benchmark. I used an older core duo laptop, since I am running out of machines to upgrade. I ran the test twice before upgrading, and twice after. Lower is better:

Silverlight 3.0: 22.0

Silverlight 4.0: 12.7

That’s about 42% better, where “twice as fast” would be 50% better, much closer to Guthrie’s claim. I guess it depends what you measure.

Related posts:

  1. Silverlight in Microsoft products – Silverlight the new Windows runtime, HTML 5 the new Silverlight?
  2. Silverlight 4.0 released to the web; tools still not final
  3. Adobe Flash getting faster on the Mac
  4. Java versus C/C++ performance – which is really faster?
  5. Silverlight 2.0 is released, Eclipse tools for Silverlight announced

7 comments to Silverlight 4 vs Silverlight 3: a little bit faster?

  • Mike

    Hi Tim … my experience is the same and while everyone keeps talking about how much faster Silverlight is than HTML and/or Flash, this simple test of rendering 1000 controls proves otherwise …

    Run each test a couple of times to get accurate timings.

  • David Heffernan

    I’m not sure you can rely on a benchmark that takes 0.5 seconds to run. A good deal of that time will surely be startup time.

    Surely there are commonly used benchmarks out there produced by people that know about benchmarks?

  • David Heffernan

    A websearch took me to Encog Silverlight Benchmark which scored 14.6 with v3 and 8.5 with v4, for what it’s worth.

  • Max Kosenko

    I don’t remember exacty, but wasn’t it about startup time due to cache of ngen images?

  • Jarle Stabell

    Some performance details in this video, in the “Ask the Gu” section, at about 01 hours 27 minutes

    In SL4, they precompile the main assemblies during installation time, meaning they can afford to spend time running compiler optimizations.

  • My colleague tried one of our IronPython apps with Silverlight 4 compared to Silverlight 3. He reckoned an average of 20% performance improvement, which is not bad considering it comes for “free” just by upgrading Silverlight.

  • Asad Ali Malik

    Silverlight 4 utilizes more of your GPU than your GPU for rendering. This makes the difference. And in next releases they are adding more and more performance.