a new Web browser engine called Servo that's optimized for parallel processing.
Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich characterized Servo as "an attempt to rebuild the Web browser from the ground up on modern hardware, rethinking old assumptions along the way."
One of those assumptions is the inevitability of insecurity. Servo is written in a language called Rust that has been designed to eliminate common memory errors that cause crashes and can be exploited. Rust is intended as a language to create large Web applications that take advantage of multicore processing and are also secure and maintainable. It's a systems language similar to Google's Go programming language.
[ But can Rust tell you where you are? Read Indoor Location Tracking Has Lost Common Sense. ]
Mozilla and Samsung are bringing Servo and Rust to ARM processors and to Android. Servo exists independently from Gecko, Mozilla's rendering engine in Firefox. While Servo has been described as the future of Firefox, no plan to replace Gecko with Servo has been announced.
To some observers, the Mozilla-Samsung partnership is a slap at Google, but it's not quite that simple. Certainly both Mozilla and Samsung seek to avoid dependence on Google as a source of funding and technology. Both companies have already made investments in projects like Firefox OS, Bada and Tizen that don't involve Google.
Perhaps more significantly, dissatisfaction with Web apps at companies like Facebook and the gripes of large game developers about the need for performance have continued. Some of these issues could be resolved if technologies like Google's Native Client framework (NaCL and PNaCL) were adopted by every browser vendor. But Google's competitors haven't shown much interest in the technology, particularly Microsoft.
ASM.js code can be generated from C/C++ code processed by Mozilla's Emscripten compiler. As such, it's an appealing target for high-end game developers, who have long relied on C/C++ code to maximize performance.
To reinforce its belief that the Web can be a suitable platform for graphically demanding games (and hence any less computationally demanding application), Mozilla recently teamed up with Epic Games to bring Epic's Unreal Engine 3 to the Web.
Whether Apple, Microsoft or Opera will also do so remains to be seen, but ASM.js matters to Mozilla because it connects the present to the company's future, when Servo and Rust come into play.
Mozilla is filling out its vendor-independent technology stack. ASM.js will keep Web apps competitive with native apps and will eventually be enhanced by Servo rendering, with Rust driving back-end applications.