High precision timing

The Performance API allows high precision measurements that are based on time in potential sub-millisecond resolution and a stable monotonic clock that is not subject to system clock skew or adjustments. The high resolution timers are needed for accurate benchmarking instead of the less precise and non-monotonic Date timestamps.

This page provides an overview about how high precision time works within the Performance API and how it compares to Date timestamps.


High precision timing is achieved by using the DOMHighResTimeStamp type for time values. The unit is milliseconds and should be accurate to 5 µs (microseconds). However, if the browser is unable to provide a time value accurate to 5 microseconds, the browser can represent the value as a time in milliseconds accurate to a millisecond. This might occur because of hardware/software constraints, or security and privacy reasons. For more information, see the section on reduced precision below.

All timestamps in the Performance API use the DOMHighResTimeStamp type. Previously, the Performance API (and other Web APIs) used the EpochTimeStamp type (previously known as DOMTimeStamp). These types are now discouraged.

Performance.now() vs. Date.now()

JavaScript defines Date.now() as the number of milliseconds elapsed since the epoch, which is defined as the midnight at the beginning of January 1, 1970, UTC. The performance.now() method on the other hand is relative to the Performance.timeOrigin property. For more information, see the time origins section below.

JavaScript Date times are subject to system clock skew or adjustments. This means that the value of time may not always be monotonically increasing. The main purpose of Date objects is to display time and date information to the user and so many operating systems run a daemon which regularly synchronizes time. It might be that the clock is tweaked a few milliseconds several times per hour.

The performance.now() method (and all other DOMHighResTimeStamp values) provide monotonically increasing time values and aren't subject to clock adjustments. This means that it is guaranteed DOMHighResTimeStamp values will be at least equal to, if not greater than, the last time you accessed it.

Date.now(); // 1678889977578
performance.now(); // 233936

For measuring performance, calculating precise frame rates (FPS), animation loops, etc., use monotonically increasing high resolution time available with Performance.now() instead of JavaScript's Date.now().

To summarize:

- Performance.now() Date.now()
Resolution sub-milliseconds milliseconds
Origin Performance.timeOrigin Unix Epoch (January 1, 1970, UTC)
Use clock adjustments No Yes
Monotonically increasing Yes No

Time origins

The Performance API uses the Performance.timeOrigin property to determine the baseline for performance-related timestamps. All DOMHighResTimeStamp times are relative to the timeOrigin property.

In Window contexts, this time origin is the time when navigation has started. In Worker and ServiceWorker contexts, the time origin is the time when the worker is run.

In the previous version of the specification (Level 1), the performance.now() method used to be relative to performance.timing.navigationStart property from the Navigation Timing specification. However, this changed in a later version of the specification (Level 2) and performance.now() is now relative to Performance.timeOrigin which avoids clock change risks when comparing timestamps across webpages.

// Level 1 (clock change risks)
currentTime = performance.timing.navigationStart + performance.now();

// Level 2 (no clock change risks)
currentTime = performance.timeOrigin + performance.now();

Synchronizing time origins between contexts

To account for the different time origins in window and worker contexts, you should translate the timestamps coming from worker scripts with the help of the timeOrigin property, so the timings synchronize for the entire application. See the examples section on the Performance.timeOrigin page for example code to synchronize time.

Reduced precision

To offer protection against timing attacks and fingerprinting, DOMHighResTimeStamp types are coarsened based on site isolation status.

  • Resolution in isolated contexts: 5 microseconds
  • Resolution in non-isolated contexts: 100 microseconds

To apply cross-origin isolation to your site, use the Cross-Origin-Opener-Policy (COOP) and Cross-Origin-Embedder-Policy (COEP) headers:

Cross-Origin-Opener-Policy: same-origin
Cross-Origin-Embedder-Policy: require-corp

These headers ensure a top-level document does not share a browsing context group with cross-origin documents. Cross-Origin-Opener-Policy process-isolates your document and potential attackers can't access to your global object if they were opening it in a popup, preventing a set of cross-origin attacks dubbed XS-Leaks.

See also