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Real-World Firefox 3 Memory Usage Leads the Field

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the free-what-you-alloc dept.

Mozilla 406

An anonymous reader writes "The author developed a program to snapshot memory usage per process every 3 seconds on Windows. Using this he recorded 3 hours of memory usage for five different browsers under real-world usage scenarios: Safari 3.1, Firefox 3, Flock 1.2 (a browser based on Firefox 2), Opera 9.5, and Internet Explorer 8. A million data points indicate that Firefox 3 has a surprising advantage over the other browsers tested. These are real-world tests and not contrived benchmarks."

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this is not the first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924697)

therefore i do not fail

Re:this is not the first post (1, Offtopic)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924841)

You failed at failing, I applaud your skillz.

I have failed. (0, Troll)

Odder (1288958) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924897)

But not like Vista did [slashdot.org] .

Eat that, whoever modbombed me.

twitter has failed. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924973)

You had a mod-bomb coming. This is a sockpuppet account for twitter, slashdot's most psychopathic Open Sores zealot. It deserves to be mod bombed and we are all better off for it.

Eat that, sockpuppet.

Re:I have failed. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925041)

Hey twitter, whatever happened to your creepy "Free culture is FUN!" kick that you were on? I always felt that would be a good slogan for the reeducation camps you'd like to run someday.

Re:I have failed. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925299)

It doesn't take a degree in physics to cogitate that this [slashdot.org] would eventually catch up to you, twitter.

And yes, you have failed. The problem is that you'll probably just create more accounts. But eventually those will catch up with you. The dishonesty you've shown in the past few months by shilling your own comments and pretending that people are interested in what you have to say (and let's no forget how many of your self-farmed mod points you used on all your accounts and against others) is just unbelievable.

I think I speak for most honest Slashdotters when I say "good riddance".

Re:I have failed. (0, Troll)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925417)

This insistence on trying to create a correlation [slashdot.org] between Microsoft and your problems on Slashdot are probably one of the reasons all but one of your eleven accounts are now posting at negative karma.

Your problem is that you continue to blame vague conspiracies by evil corporation$ instead of understanding that people find what you do here distasteful.

Lools IIS can't hold its own (0, Flamebait)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924721)

Not really surprised though.

IIS You (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924765)

Funny, my high traffic .Net websites have no problem running on IIS.

Re:IIS You (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925151)

Link to to them. Who are you?

Re:Lools IIS can't hold its own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924801)

You think you actually impress anyone with your pithy observation? Is this what substitutes for insight in today's nerd community?

Oh wait, it's just that you can use a computer. Well golly, let me bow to your insights on web servers.

Re:Lools IIS can't hold its own (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925049)

You think you actually impress anyone with your feeble comment? Is this what substitutes for wit in today's troll community?

Oh wait, it's just that you can use a computer. Well golly, let me bow to your insights on discussion forums.

Re:Lools IIS can't hold its own (3, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924993)

Lools IIS can't hold its own

Haha! That's funny and insightful!

Oh, wait.
The term "slashdotted" has become ubiquitous with smashing a webserver due to high traffic.
Most webservers [netcraft.com] are *nix based (though admittedly IIS is gaining ground).
Hm. Nevermind.

Re:Lools IIS can't hold its own (4, Funny)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925185)

"The term "slashdotted" has become ubiquitous with smashing a webserver due to high traffic.
Most webservers are *nix based (though admittedly IIS is gaining ground)."
So what you are trying to say is that Slashdotting is becoming more and more popular?

Re:Lools IIS can't hold its own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925247)

Netcraft confirms it!

Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (5, Interesting)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924725)

Interesting test - pretty amazing how FF3 basically flatlines at around 120 MBytes for over 2 hours of usage ... would have been interesting if the same methodology could be used with FF2 to see how much of an improvement FF3 is over that and how well the leaks were fixed. [komar.org]

Me Laughs at Vista. (-1, Troll)

freenix (1294222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924835)

Here's a GNU/Linux, Debian Lenny, point of comparison. You might say I'm a heavy browser user. The machine is dual core 64 bit AMD with 2GB of RAM. I have Firefox 2, Galeon and Konqueror running all for weeks with 24 days of uptime since I last did a dist-upgrade with kernel replacement.

  • Konqueror has about 300 MB RES, five windows dozens of tabs.
  • Iceweasel has about 100 MB, multiple windows and tabs.
  • Galeon has about 65 MB, multiple windows and tabs.

This is not a stress test. My system remains snappy for Kontact, gimp and other work. The Safari memory problem is one of Safari or Vista, it would be nice to hear from an Apple user. Vista's low uptime is Vista's alone, regardless of what component caused it.

Hi twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925213)

Good thing you have all these other accounts that can root [slashdot.org] for you. How many now? twelve? I'll have to check the sockpuppet log [slashdot.org] soon.

> Vista's low uptime is Vista's alone

Browsers and memory. You've told us about that before [slashdot.org] .

Are you seriously claiming that this is a problem with Vista? In all seriousness?

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (5, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924851)

Cue Iraqi spokesman

There are no memory leaks. All memory usage is as we intend it to be. Any reports of leaks are lies by people who do not understand our page caching system. The infidels will never take Baghdad.

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (0, Offtopic)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925067)

LOL - mod parent +99 ... ;-)

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925239)

His fame quickly evaporated as the war continued into the "insurgency" phase; from the middle of 2003 onward, he faded from the public spotlight, and is no longer a figure in the war.

Although questioned by American authorities, al-Sahhaf was released, and there has been no suggestion of charging or detaining him for his role in the Saddam Hussein government. He is now living in the United Arab Emirates with his family.

When asked where he had got his information he replied, "authentic sources--many authentic sources".[7] He pointed out that he "was a professional, doing his job".

Much of the information given by al-Sahhaf during the war was clearly inaccurate. It has been argued that the same is not true of his predictions about the post-war situation. In 2007, British journalist Marina Hyde contrasted the comments of al-Sahhaf with those made by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, arguing that the former's view of the likely outcome of the war reflected the 2007 situation more accurately than Blair's descriptions.

See also: Sampo e-bank humorously cracked [anta.net]

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (1)

Smooth and Shiny (1097089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925361)

This was good. Thanks for the laugh.

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (4, Informative)

Mascot (120795) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924855)

The article states FF3 is an improvement over FF2, without offering data points for FF2. However, it also mentions Flock is based on FF2, so I'm guessing they've assumed the Flock data is representative for FF2.

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925447)

It would have been interesting to include the Flock 2.0 beta, which is based on Firefox 3, and IE 7. I don't think many people are using IE8 yet.

I'd also throw in a minimalist browser like KrazyBrowser for fun.

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (1)

MattyDK23 (819057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924921)

Interesting test - pretty amazing how FF3 basically flatlines at around 120 MBytes for over 2 hours of usage ... would have been interesting if the same methodology could be used with FF2 to see how much of an improvement FF3 is over that and how well the leaks were fixed. [komar.org]
Flock is based off of Firefox 2, and after a bit of browsing leveled off at 190MB. Firefox 3 was a bit more volatile, but like you said, was around 120MB for the most part.

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925025)

Interesting test - pretty amazing how FF3 basically flatlines at around 120 MBytes for over 2 hours of usage

That won't do those without 120 MB of memory to spare much good.
Setting a cap on memory usage isn't a good solution, IMHO -- using well-designed memory handling that proactively frees memory seems to me to be a far better solution than a cap and garbage collection model.

What cap? (4, Informative)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925345)

Setting a cap on memory usage isn't a good solution, IMHO -- using well-designed memory handling that proactively frees memory seems to me to be a far better solution than a cap and garbage collection model.
I haven't seen any mention of a cap, even if that's a natural conclusion based on the flat line that one can observe in the graphs.

If you check this [pavlov.net] fairly lengthy explanation of how memory usage was improved in FF3 you'll see that it is mostly attributed to reduced fragmentation and leaks, and smarting caching, just as you are advocating.

db

How long has 256 MB been standard? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925399)

That won't do those without 120 MB of memory to spare much good.
As I understand it, even laptop PCs have come with 256 MB of RAM for several years. This could be divided as half for the kernel, background services, and GUI, and half for Firefox. Which devices are you talking about?

Re:How long has 256 MB been standard? (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925505)

I'm not the only user on my computer, you insensitive clod!

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (1, Insightful)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925459)

So wait... 120MB is considered a reasonable amount of memory for Firefox to take up, an improvement even? Do any other "commonly used" programs soak up that much... because going by what I'm running, that is way out ahead of the field.

I love me some Firefox, wouldn't want to switch to anything else, but memory usage is still something I'd file under "to be resolved". Not that it matters that much - I have plenty of RAM to throw at it, but it'd be nice for it to not eat up a large chunk like that.

Re:Wonder what Firefox 2 looked like ... (4, Interesting)

reg (5428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925539)

That won't do those without 120 MB of memory to spare much good. Setting a cap on memory usage isn't a good solution, IMHO -- using well-designed memory handling that proactively frees memory seems to me to be a far better solution than a cap and garbage collection model.

(-1, Uninformed)

Firefox has no global cap on memory. It will dynamically configure it's caches (to some extent) based on the available RAM. It would be a stupid design to leave lots of RAM free, and reload stuff over the net. It also proactively frees memory, in most cases, although it sometimes delays a little, because it knows that you might turn around and reuse all of that memory you just stopped using. The GC is just for JavaScript (required by design) and for DOM nodes which end up being circularly referenced (which is unavoidable).

Finally, 120MB is not a lot of RAM. Notice that the other browsers are using similar amounts of RAM.

Regards
-Jeremy

Careful... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924737)

Some Opera fans may be a bit upset.

Re:Careful... (4, Insightful)

Paul Neubauer (86753) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925091)

Not really. Many Opera users are finding 9.50 to not be as good as claimed or hoped and finding it to be a memory hog. I am not alone in looking at 9.50, finding the the 9.51 snapshot to be less buggy, and sticking with 9.27 for normal non-browser testing browsing.

Now, maybe when Opera 9.52 or so is out, there might be some valid concern.

Re:Careful... (2, Informative)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925483)

Some, but I'm not one of them, my Opera (9.51 on XP SP3) has been running for a few days now (almost 4), with a peak of 157MB, currently at 96MB, VM of 114MB, and an I/O of almost 12GB's... opening up every site on my SpeedDial (9 sites + this one) brought me up to 122MB, VM of 140MB...

But, I honestly don't care how much it uses, because so far it hasn't impacted (noticeably) on any other software, and always starts (launches, or maximizes) instantly, and I prefer Opera's interface. And how much memory it uses isn't enough to make me prefer one browser over another... CPU usage on the other hand, might, but most of them are pretty much the same in that regard.

And after closing all those tabs, its down to 92MB, VM 110MB, peak the same.

What time of day did he do his tests? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924749)

I find that for certain hours of the day (namely in the evening) My memory usage skyrockets. It probably has to do with the increased number of images I am loading :D

...contrived benchmarks. (0)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924759)

These are real-world tests and not contrived benchmarks.

We'll wait for Apple to come along and supply these.

No I'm not an Apple basher - I'm an avid Apple user, but even I look at some of their benchmarks and shake my head in amusement.

real-time memory loss leads US DOWnwards (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924767)

the crooks are the same as before, butt they've changed their names to protect themselves from the innocents. the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

But what memory metric was taken? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924789)

IIRC the memory displayed in process manager isn't necessarily the memory requested/used by the program, but merely what Windows has allocated, partially based on the applications requirements and partially based on what Windows _thinks_ the program needs.

As such there's room for applications to look like they're using more memory than they are which can lead to misleading stats. If this test has only taken into account the memory windows has allocated it doesn't necessarily act as a measure of how efficient the program is at least, just how good it is at playing Window's memory management system.

Re:But what memory metric was taken? (4, Interesting)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925235)

Ok, I see your point. Let's pretend Browser X is using dirty tricks with Windows's memory management system to shrink down how much memory is allocated to it. Browser Y is not doing that and appears to be less efficient.

Well and good, but it's irrelevant. The remains that Browser X is taking less memory from Windows's pool of resources. It doesn't matter how Browser X is doing it or how efficient Browser X being with the memory internally, it is a solid truth that Browser X is using occupying fewer system resources than Browser Y.

It's really a moot point, because it's unlikely that the developers of Browser X knew any "cheats" that would let them use substantially less memory than every other browser out there.

Re:But what memory metric was taken? (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925305)

The remains that Browser X is taking less memory from Windows's pool of resources.

I don't know how the Windows memory manager works, but the Linux kernel and glibc allow processes to map more memory than they actually use, and that's fine.

HTTP 503'd (aka /.ed) (5, Funny)

scatters (864681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924809)

Service Not Available.

At the time of posting this, there were like, 10 comments in the thread. Assuming that only 10% of all /.ers RTFA, that means that the site can support only 1 simultaneous user.

FF3 really leads the field on my computer!!! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924999)

FF3 really leads the field on my computer. It clocks in at right at 0MB all the fucking time. Night, day, weekday, weekend. Always 0 fucking bytes.

Fuck FF3. CPU hogging bloatware. I'll stick with IE7 and Opera, thank you very much.

Re:HTTP 503'd (aka /.ed) (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925131)

You're incorrectly assuming at least two things:

1: That all readers are posters.
2: That there is a correlation between looking at a page and number of connections. Very few clients use a single HTTP 1.1 persistent connection, and even fewer one that will stay open after all elements have been fetched. Lots of clients use multiple connections, and lots of clients use non-persistent connections, closing each of them down as soon as they're finished fetching a single object. The latter is especially common when behind a proxy server.

not every reader posts comments pal (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925273)

i believe general participant to reader ration around the net is around 5 - 10%. if 100 users use a service, 5 posts on it and such.

Re:not every reader posts comments pal (1)

scatters (864681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925325)

Sigh! I know, but an analysis of the probable intersect between the sets of "Slashdot users who read the thread", "Slashdot users who read the linked article" and "Slashdot users who post" would have been tedious. Besides which, 99% of all statistics are made up on the spot, including this one.

Re:HTTP 503'd (aka /.ed) (2, Funny)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925443)

It's IIS, it probably ran out of licenses.

Re:HTTP 503'd (aka /.ed) (1)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925453)

Assuming that only 10% of all /.ers RTFA, that means that the site can support only 1 simultaneous user.

10%?
You're the optimistic kinda guy aren't you?

Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924811)

Blown to bits with only enough time for 3 people to comment.

Service Unavailable (3, Funny)

MessageDrivenBean (534518) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924825)

Already /.-ed? Or do I have to use any of the mentioned browsers... :-)

Bah. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924827)

If they didn't compare with Dillo/lynx, it's meaningless. Also, already slashdotted.

Re:Bah. (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925219)

If they didn't compare with telnet and talking to the server directly and reading straight HTML, it's meaningless.

Re:Bah. (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925363)

if you're not including the act of crafting the bits in the TCP stream by hand to assemble the HTTP requests, what's the point of even doing the comparison?

I've still not downloaded it yet (1)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924829)

But I may have to.

Re:I've still not downloaded it yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925117)

Time to upgrade that Mosaic.

User Friendly [userfriendly.org]

Terrible reference (5, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924899)

Between:

These aren't stress tests, and I probably never went over 4 windows in each browser, with at most 3 tabs in each window.(Emphasis mine)
and
.the individual numbers should not be compared to each other...

...how is this supposed to be taken seriously? "Contrived benchmarks" at least provide consistent and reliable results. They may not provide a completely accurate picture of real world browsing, but it's a hell of a lot better than this anecdotal "test".

you do know what "contrived" means right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924953)

What use is consitent and reliable when you are inaccurate? What company do you work for? I need to know so I can run away from your products as fast as possible.

Re:you do know what "contrived" means right? (4, Informative)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925101)

Tests need to be repeatable, and when they are repeated they need to provide consistent results. If you can't provide consistent results on each subsequent test, you need to provide solid rational on why the results were outside your margin of error. Saying "Oh, I might have had one or two youtube videos up at the time" is not solid rational.

Scripts that visit the exact same pages, for the exact same time, do the exact same things across all browsers provide consistent, quantifiable results. Since everyone's browsing behavior is different no script will ever provide "accurate" results for real world usage. But then again, those scripts could be closer to my real world usage than this guys anecdotal test. Get it?

Re:Terrible reference (4, Insightful)

CyberLife (63954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925011)

This was my first question too. Real-world testing is all well and good, but how controlled was it? What assurances do we have that his results really paint the picture he claims and not something else?

Note: The site is down so I haven't read the article yet. I'm guessing it fails to address this concern?

Re:Terrible reference (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925119)

There honestly was no control, below is all he talked about what type of pages he does:

Just regular stuff
These aren't stress tests, and I probably never went over 4 windows in each browser, with at most 3 tabs in each window. I didn't look at many pages that are extremely heavy on images, and no "browser benchmark" style pages. Gmail was used on each browser.

Re:Terrible reference (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925263)

Should have gone to the exact same pages and clicked the exact same links in each browser. Without doing that this is totally meaningless. That being said, I'll be happy if FF 3 doesn't leak as much memory as FF 2 or IE X.

Yah, but how reliable? (1, Informative)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924901)

Am I the only one that thinks although firefox 3 is much faster, firefox 2 was much more stable? I'm running it on vista, XP sp3, and ubuntu machines and FF3 crashes on all 3 of them.

Re:Yah, but how reliable? (1)

hogfat (944873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924939)

nope, you're not the only one.

Re:Yah, but how reliable? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925061)

Yeah, there are 2 of you. It's your fucking flash plugin d00ds.......

(why would anybody install that piece of crap is beyond me)

My Firefox never crashes, I repeat never. (Ubuntu 8.04) I use it for hours and hours every single day.

Re:Yah, but how reliable? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925053)

It's not called 3.0 for nothing.
Any point-zero release should be treated like a public beta.

Re:Yah, but how reliable? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925375)

Indeed. That's why I haven't installed it yet. FF2 may be a memory hog but it's reliable. Also, I'll wait a while for all my my favorite plug-ins to get updated.

Re:Yah, but how reliable? (4, Informative)

rrkap (634128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925125)

I haven't had Firefox 3 crash for me yet (although I've only been using it since Download Day). I have noticed that it no longer gets hung up processing javascript the way Firefox 2 often did.

Re:Yah, but how reliable? (5, Insightful)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925165)

This is most likely related to the Flash plugin. The second suspect would be the Java plugin. For me Firefox never crashed on a website without Flash and Java, but I had a few crashes due to Flash bugs.

FF3 also gets in my face :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925287)

I have the same experiences, but in a much lesser degree. What really ticks me off about ff3 which made me stop using it is its annoying warning when you close it while having multiple tabs open. What used to be a warning which could be overcome by pressing enter (or escape to abort closing down) has now been changed with a new default save option to save the current state before exiting.

But when you hit that (by pressing enter) you'll end up with the whole mess next time you fire up ff3. And there is no way to stop this, apart from turning off the entire warning. Also telling ff3 to always start up with displaying the homepage doesn't work; the moment you save the state it'll display all the pages next time you fire it up. My other gripe is the new toolbar which makes it impossible to easily clean out the search history. But thats just a minor annoyance for me.

All in all this is enough for me to stick with ff2 for the time being. At least until someone (or myself) has some sort of addon available to bring the old warning without saving window back.

What extensions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925317)

What extensions are you using? I haven't crashed even once yet, and I'm running it full time at home & at work.

Wait (4, Informative)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924911)

Don't get overexcited just yet. Let me quote some of the most important parts of the article that were completely overlooked in the summary for some reason:

"These results are from opening Memory Watcher and then using the browser between 9,000 and 11,000 seconds (close to 3 hours). Each browser is tested in a separate session, and there are brief periods of inactivity throughout the time period. [...] The above profiles are not a direct comparison in any way, but they offer a visualization of trending in the memory behavior of the layout engines and interfaces. [...]These aren't stress tests, and I probably never went over 4 windows in each browser, with at most 3 tabs in each window. [...] An automation script will never give the same insight into performance over time as will this sort of profile." [emphasis added]

In other words, it is evident that there was no guarantee whatsoever that every browser would display exactly the same sequence of web pages. It is easy to jump to conclusions that if Firefox has used the least memory then it must "[have] a surprising advantage over the other browsers." But is it a logical course of reasoning? Or only a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy combined with wishful thinking? The truth is that the amount of memory used during an hour of downloading web pages is strongly correlated with the speed of downloading and displaying said web pages. Is it the case that Firefox couldn't download, format and display pages as quickly as Internet Explorer because of the native Windows internal API hooks that help Explorer work faster than any independent browser could possible aspire to? That is quite possible. Unfortunately the results of that experiment are inconclusive and the methodology was unreliable.

Re:Wait (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925377)

the native Windows internal API hooks that help Explorer work faster than any independent browser could possible aspire to?

Can we get over this urban legend please? There aren't any such "native Windows internal API hooks" - unless you can give references? FWIW I used to distribute a hacked up Wine that could install and run IE6 just fine (this was several years ago). It started faster and browsed just as fast as native Mozilla did, but that was because it was tightly written, not because of cheating.

If slashdotted (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924929)

Final memory usage in MB
Safari 636.9
Firefox 3 111.8
Flock (Firefox 2) 191.9
Opera 9.5 190.6
Internet Explorer 194.4

How did they measure memory consumption? (5, Insightful)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924947)

As the server is (already!?) down, I didn't yet have a chance to RTFA. So perhaps it is in the article somewhere, but I couldn't help wondering: how did they actually measure memory usage?

I'm asking because, these days, that pretty much amounts to rocket science.

Different operating systems report memory usage differently, even between different versions of the same OS (yes, I'm looking at you, Vista vs. XP). If they used "top" or its equivalent, it matters a lot whether they looked at real usage, virtual memory size (can be huge but that doesn't say anything) or what-have-you. Some OS's cheat quite a bit in what memory is reported as being "free" or "available", as well. Then we get to questions like "does it include the size of shared libraries", if not, is that fair if the libraries are really only used by that one application? Etc. etc.

So I'm not saying memory using doesn't matter (it very much does), it's just hard to measure it exactly. And, any attempts at doing so, should be documented precisely.

Re:How did they measure memory consumption? (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925063)

I don't know about these guys, but since most of these will be dynamically linked files, I'd probably be looking for ways to trap the malloc library calls, in much the same way as most of the debug malloc implementations do for various Unixes. If you track the maximum usage and the unfreed total, you can determine the memory consumption and memory leakage without relying on any system-specific interpretation of what memory is.

Re:How did they measure memory consumption? (1)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925205)

That sounds like a nice approach, didn't think of that. I highly doubt that this is how most of such experiments are conducted though.

Possibly valgrind could be adapted to keep track of and report these numbers; if it doesn't already, that is (I have not used it recently, it didn't do this when I last used it a few years ago)

Re:How did they measure memory consumption? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925139)

From the article:

About the "Memory Watcher" Memory Watcher is a small program I wrote that records the memory usage of each process on the system every three seconds. It uses the PrivateMemorySize64 long value from the Process collection in .NET.

* Simple
There are tools similar to this, offered on every platform, but they are not usually easy to use. Memory Watcher provides a super-easy way to monitor every process and silently work in the background.
* Exports to spreadsheet
It exports the currently viewed data to a CSV file. These data are easily taken into Excel, and were used for the graphs in this article.
* Implementation notes
The application uses a DataGridView control, and sets its DataSource property to a DataTable which is built from the object collection. It uses a Timer to poll the system every 3 seconds. It offers searching and filtering of processes using a TextBox.

Re:How did they measure memory consumption? (4, Informative)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925419)

The OS was Vista, and the program was written in .Net to use the function PrivateMemorySize64 [microsoft.com] . MSDN says it returns "the amount of memory which cannot be shared with other processes". It also says it's the same as the "Private Bytes" value in taskmon. Probably it means that it's the amount of memory the process received from mallocs (or rather GlobalAllocs/LocalAllocs/HeapAllocs), and which can't be assigned to some other process.

It's worth noticing that the guy bothered with a GUI and an interactive filtering option for such a simple program. I wonder whether he ever heard of CLI, because it looks like a perfect fit for this kind of program.

By the way, why not post CoralCDN links (append .nyud.net to hostname) instead of direct links when the site in question is small and likely to be Slashdotted?

how much ram? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924949)

"The system is Windows Vista SP1, and the computer has 3.0+ GB of RAM."

3.0+?? that's not very, er..exact. just like his test.

IE8 but not Safari 4? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924967)

Hmm, seems like someone is trying to scale the "research" away.... I don't like M$ but I use it for post-development corrections... Wouldn't it be fair to use Safari 4 DP if you are using IE 8b1?

3 hours of real world usage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23924985)

Using this he recorded 3 hours of memory usage for five different browsers under real-world usage scenarios,

He surfed porn for three hours? Must have callouses there and shooting blanks by now!

Seems it's slashdotted. Here is the text. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925027)

I can't be arsed to do this properly. There are a lot of graphs and stuff. But here are the text bits. Pure copy and paste. No formatting. Live with it.

Web browser performance is an often talked-about and flaunted thing, but many claims are not really backed up by solid evidence. I wrote software that collected millions of data points over 14 hours of actual browsing time, and this article reveals my findings.

Problem

Many people load hundreds of web pages, sometimes at the same time, often over periods of 3+ hours. Users complain about the memory usage of Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer, and we need a way to identify which browsers are better at managing memory than others. Traditional benchmarks do not look at all the things you might do with a program, and we need real-world numbers over a period of hours.

Solution

I developed a Windows Forms application in .NET called Memory Watcher that "watches" the system memory numbers. It uses a timer to poll the processes every 3 seconds. It then records every number and also prints them out in a grid on the screen. This allows us to keep track of each program's memory usage over time and with real-world usage.
Memory Profiles

These results are from opening Memory Watcher and then using the browser between 9,000 and 11,000 seconds (close to 3 hours). Each browser is tested in a separate session, and there are brief periods of inactivity throughout the time period. The vertical axis is the memory used in MB, and the horizontal axis contains the memory "checkpoints" my program took (one every 3 seconds).

(Graphs and more graphs)

Benchmark Details

The above profiles are not a direct comparison in any way, but they offer a visualization of trending in the memory behavior of the layout engines and interfaces. This is not a diagnosis or bug report. Let me show some important metrics of the above results.
Browser name Exact version Time active (s)
Hours Comments
Safari 3.1.2 10,470 s
2.91 hours Normal browsing
Firefox 3.0 9,681 s
2.69 hours Normal browsing
No extensions
Flock 1.2.2 10,146 s
2.82 hours Flock is based on Firefox 2.0
No extensions other than the default
Opera 9.5 9,855 s
2.74 hours No extensions
Only browser was used
IE 8.0 10,236 s
2.84 hours Used 7.0 rendering mode
No extensions

The system is Windows Vista SP1, and the computer has 3.0+ GB of RAM. No plugins are disabled, but the Acrobat Reader and Java plugins were (presumably) not used. Flock is based on Firefox 2.0 but its memory usage is probably worse because it uses built-in extensions.

        * Just regular stuff
        * These aren't stress tests, and I probably never went over 4 windows in each browser, with at most 3 tabs in each window. I didn't look at many pages that are extremely heavy on images, and no "browser benchmark" style pages. Gmail was used on each browser.
        * Not just pages
            It is hard for a regular benchmark to "simulate" a user actually clicking on things. Interactions with the user can greatly influence memory or performance. Having a responsive browser is probably more important than just having a "fast" one at showing pages.
        * Plugins included
            My profiles include Flash and possibly other plugins. A browser might have memory issues with a plugin and that could cause a significant problem with the user experience. (Most Windows Vista crashes have been due to graphics cards, not Vista itself, for example.)
        * Real-life usage
            An automation script will never give the same insight into performance over time as will this sort of profile. As developers, we want to make programs that work well for our users, and not just for tests. The tests capture the "rhythm" of software usage.

Final Memory Measurements
The data in this article are those reported by Windows Vista, but the individual numbers should not be compared to each other. Some browsers were tested slightly longer than others, and some different pages were loaded. That said, here are the final performance metrics.

Browser name Ending private set in MB
Safari 636.9
Firefox 3 111.8
Flock (Firefox 2) 191.9
Opera 9.5 190.6
Internet Explorer 194.4

About the "Memory Watcher"

Memory Watcher is a small program I wrote that records the memory usage of each process on the system every three seconds. It uses the PrivateMemorySize64 long value from the Process collection in .NET.
        * Simple
            There are tools similar to this, offered on every platform, but they are not usually easy to use. Memory Watcher provides a super-easy way to monitor every process and silently work in the background.
        * Exports to spreadsheet
            It exports the currently viewed data to a CSV file. These data are easily taken into Excel, and were used for the graphs in this article.
        * Implementation notes
            The application uses a DataGridView control, and sets its DataSource property to a DataTable which is built from the object collection. It uses a Timer to poll the system every 3 seconds. It offers searching and filtering of processes using a TextBox.

Conclusion

These profiles are meant to provide a picture of what the memory behavior of popular browsers is over a period of time, not to provide absolute benchmark times. Firefox 3.0 shows memory usage that is significantly lower than Firefox 2, which also does very well. Here is a summary of my results.

        * Safari 3.1
            Safari on Windows shows extremely poor memory management, and I do not know whether it ever reaches a high water mark. If this is by design, it is certainly a design that looks inefficient and seems to contradict Apple's marketing.
        * Firefox 3.0
            This browser exhibits memory usage that is by far lower than the others. It releases memory to the system and the trend line is nearly flat.
            (This is likely due to the efforts outlined here.)
        * Flock (based on Firefox 2.0)
            Flock did very well and this browser and Firefox 2.0 could likely be run for long periods without causing many problems. The extensions probably reduced the efficiency somewhat.
        * Opera 9.5
            Opera's performance was about as good as Firefox 2.0 (Flock), and it could likely be used for very lengthy sessions. However, Kestrel is certainly not a revolutionary or even notable technology in this arena.
        * Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1
            IE did well in the profile, although a worrying trend in the data could indicate that it would keep escalating. However, this browser could likely sustain many hours of moderate usage.

Final Thoughts

After browsing for 14 hours with these programs, and recording all the results into spreadsheets, the most memory efficient browser in my usage is very clear--Firefox 3.0 not only trumps its older version, but every other popular offering on Windows. This article may help other vendors rethink their marketing campaigns, and may prompt further improvements.

Millions? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925035)

"I wrote software that collected millions of data points over 14 hours of actual browsing time, and this article reveals my findings."
"It uses a timer to poll the processes every 3 seconds."
14*3600/3=16800 which is still much lower than million. To reach million he would have to test each browser for more than a month.

Re:Millions? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925429)

Later on he says it takes a data point for each process running. Using my awesome work laptop as a prime example, I've got 77 processes running. So it's more like 14*3600*77/3= 1,293,600. He must have some sweet processes (>=120) running to get into the multi-million range though.

Great news FF - though Opera is speedy (4, Interesting)

SgtAaron (181674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925077)

I've been blessed with using a Duron 950Mhz with a gig of RAM, lately. Quite speedy. Heh. But I've used worse, as many can no doubt also say. Oh, and an GeForce4, and of course the X Window System. :-)

I've always used Firefox, and Netscape before that, on my linux desktops. I must say that I tried Opera lately, for the first time, and found its rendering to be very spry. The difference was most noticable for me when loading very large web pages, or very detailed with lots of tables and such. The latter was our nagios service detail page, which the rendering in Opera was quite noticeable in its quickness.

So I get to be torn now, maybe, speed vs lean...
I do like speed. Opera's memory use doesn't seem to be so excessively bad as to negate the optimizations they seem to have coded into the rendering.

Aaron

Memory?...what about speed? (5, Insightful)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925087)

While it's admirable that it's the leanest of the bunch, if I have 2GB of memory and over half of that is unused at the moment, do I really care if my browser uses 25MB instead of 40MB? I would think the speed with which the browser (and subsequent windows) opened, as well as how quickly it loaded plug-ins and other embedded media, would be of more importance.

Definitely important (4, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925231)

In the case of Firefox, memory usage has ranged from 25MB to $MEMORY_AVAILABLE. Which sucks no matter how much you have.

Re:Memory?...what about speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925421)

You'd rather be talking "my browser uses 250 MB instead of 400MB." It IS still quite a difference.

This doesn't mesh with my experience (4, Informative)

Curien (267780) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925097)

My wife and I share a computer. She uses mostly uses Firefox, I mostly use Opera. This is on a 64-bit Ubuntu Hardy.

I have noticed no difference in her memory usage since we upgraded to FF3. I used to regularly have to kill her browser every once in a while (maybe once or twice a week) because it was eating up all the RAM. Since we upgraded to FF3, I can see no difference in memory usage.

For example, right now FF is using 300MB resident, Opera is using 100MB. Flashblock is installed on both browsers. Granted, that's not a terribly good test considering we've been browsing to different sites, but I've found that those numbers are fairly stable. FF usually levels off in the 300-500MB range, and Opera in the 100-150 range.

YMMV.

Re:This doesn't mesh with my experience (1)

changos (105425) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925249)

The difference is gender base, not browser type.

Irrelevant... (3, Informative)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925175)

That's pretty much irrelevant to me, I switched back to Opera because of performance issues.

Memory != performance.

For example, when I open a new tab in opera the CPU doesn't register almost any change, when I open a tab in Firefox it goes almost to 100% (that's in Linux, with many extensions added, and BTW, I need those extensions to duplicate Opera's features)

Re:Irrelevant... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925353)

Opening a new tab in Firefox spikes my CPU to a whooping 2%. Yes, with many extensio

Re:Irrelevant... (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925393)

What CPU? Is it Linux? Maybe it's something wrong with my install...

That may be true, but... (1)

SlashThat (859697) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925229)

I really wish it would stop crashing every 15 minutes.

Re:That may be true, but... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925471)

I really wish it would stop crashing every 15 minutes.
Have you tried installing Flashblock? I've been told that defects in Adobe Flash Player cause a lot of the crashes and leaks commonly attributed to Firefox.

I thought memory leaks were a solved problem ... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925379)

After all, we've been able to plug in a decent garbage collector into sloppily written C programs for 15+ years now [hp.com] ...

missing option: (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925469)

K-Meleon. I'd love to see how it compares to FF, though it would be best to wait for it to be updated on same Gecko renderer as FF3 uses.

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