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Memory Usage of Chrome, Firefox 3.5, et al.

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the gig-here-gig-there-pretty-soon-it-starts-to-add-up dept.

Mozilla 505

An anonymous reader writes "This experiment graphs the memory usage of Chrome and Firefox 3.5 (along with Safari and Opera) over a series of 150 Web page loads using an automated script. Firefox 3.5 shows the lowest memory usage in all categories, including average memory usage, maximum memory usage, and final memory usage. Chrome uses over 1 GB of memory due to its process architecture. Safari 4 and Opera show memory usage degradation over time, while Chrome and Firefox 3.5 are more reliable in freeing memory to the OS." IE 8 was not included "because the author could not find a way to prevent it from opening a new window on each invocation of the command."

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IE8, huh? (5, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408009)

I couldn't find a way to keep it from sucking so forcefully all the air was evacuated from my office every time it was run.

Re:IE8, huh? (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408109)

I think you are full of shit.

On one of my machines, IE8 is slightly faster than FF. But on my old slow machine, IE8 is *much less* of a memory pig, so much so that I had to drop FF simply because after awhile with a few tabs open, it slowed my machine to a crawl and eventually required me to kill it in the Task Manager.

Some people have tried to tell me that I just don't know how to set FF up to run efficiently. I say that I shouldn't have to.

I'm not happy about this because *I am not* a "whatever works" guy, I very much want to support OSS and spacifically FF. But it just doesn't work for me. Right now. Yet.

Re:IE8, huh? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408195)

Seriously? I've never seen IE8 take up less memory than FF, ever, for any combination of pages. Right out of the box, FF is much lighter weight.

I can't imagine what you were doing wrong.

Re:IE8, huh? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408595)

maybe it was you that was doing something wrong with IE?

Moving targets (5, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408233)

There's no answer that's always right. If memory usage was paramount, we'd all have browsers that used 1 MB of RAM and took 10 minutes to render a page, with another 2 minutes to scroll down a page.

But RAM is cheap and developers have to make compromises based on the real-world that they have to compete in. I can get a gig of RAM for about the cost of a burger lunch with my wife.

Do I really care about memory usage? Only to the extent that it's 'good enough' on my slowest computer - a dual-core Mac Mini with 512MB.

FF3 is plenty good enough for me to thoroughly enjoy an episode of 'Burn Notice' on Hulu just now on that very computer.

Sorry you are having probs with memory usage on your (ancient?) computer. Perhaps you should consider forgoing a burger lunch this week?

Re:IE8, huh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408439)

Whoever modded you troll is full of shit.

Re:IE8, huh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408523)

Certain Slashdotters like palegray and eldavojohn are automatically modded to +5 (and their critics are thus modded down) regardless of content because of their toadiness and/or credentials. Palegray seems to be a cool guy, if not a bit sterile, but having to follow orders does that to people. eldavojohn just sucks the editors' dicks and hides behind momma taco's leg.

That being said, Microsoft operating systems always run Microsoft software faster and snappier than competitors' software, though palegray's potshot was much appreciated.

Re:IE8, huh? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408201)

I couldn't find a way to keep it from BLOWING so forcefully all the air was evacuated from my office every time it was run.

Fixed that for 'ya, Phil.

Finally... (1, Insightful)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408013)

Finally, this should stop perennial "firefox is a memory hog" trolls. Hopefully.

Re:Finally... (3, Interesting)

Banacek (994201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408051)

http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/7330/picture1uo4.png [imageshack.us]

Firefox is still my browser of choice, due to the plug-ins I use daily. I have to wonder how Flash intensive the sites loaded were.

DO NOT CLICK LINK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408057)

goatse link in the parent.

Re:Finally... (2, Funny)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408097)

Well, and here's mine, after half a day of heavy usage:

    PID USER PR NI VIRT RES SHR S %CPU %MEM TIME+ COMMAND
  8745 root 20 0 267m 106m 22m S 9.3 10.6 2:38.87 firefox-bin
  5242 root 19 -1 334m 24m 8540 S 1.3 2.4 0:36.26 X
  5405 root 20 0 37520 11m 8408 S 0.0 1.1 0:01.16 xfdesktop
  5400 root 20 0 19468 10m 6964 S 0.0 1.0 0:02.72 xfce4-panel
  5398 root 20 0 18600 9272 6696 S 0.0 0.9 0:00.80 xfwm4

Re:Finally... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408143)

Firefox...as root...REALLY?!

You should be ashamed.

Re:Finally... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408319)

Why? Do you really do 'which sudo' before running it and entering your password. Sha1 your .profile each time your open a new terminal? Check your .desktop files to see if the system administration menu items actually run those programs?

Owning a user account in *nix is just a short step from root.

Re:Finally... (2, Informative)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408433)

Do you really do 'which sudo' before running it and entering your password.

Do you think it's so hard to replace "which" as well?

Sha1 your .profile each time your open a new terminal?

Or sha1sum?

Check your .desktop files to see if the system administration menu items actually run those programs?

That could be a little harder, but I'm sure you get my point by now.

However, there are several good reasons not to run your browser as root. First, it can do a lot more damage if it misbehaves. Second, there's greater security exposure since it means that other users who don't have sudo access on the local machine might be able to get root by exploiting the browser.

E.g. if someone exploits sendmail, but it's run as a non-privileged user, then that user might be able to find a hole exploitable only via localhost to gain root access via the browser. This is why you should run as few things as root as possible, even if they don't access remote machines.

Re:Finally... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408151)

Running a browser as root? You, sir, are a brave man.

Re:Finally... (1)

Banacek (994201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408167)

I honestly don't think the issue is with Firefox. I think there is something wrong with Firefox/Flash. Hopefully they will figure it out.

Re:Finally... (1)

malkman (539215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408273)

Aha, yeah I just took a look and firefox.exe is using about 418MB of RAM. Honestly though, ram is pretty damn cheap nowadays. Even being broke I've managed to accumulate 8GB worth, and other than the occasional precursory glance, I don't worry about how much I'm using anymore... Actually now that I think about it 418MB is pretty fuckin bad, I need to turn off some of these extensions

Re:Finally... (2, Insightful)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408197)

http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/7330/picture1uo4.png [imageshack.us]

Firefox is still my browser of choice, due to the plug-ins I use daily. I have to wonder how Flash intensive the sites loaded were.

Was that 3.5 or 3.0? 3.0 has a terrible memory footprint...

Re:Finally... (2, Informative)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408279)

It's 3.0, 3.5 has a new icon.

Re:Finally... (1)

Banacek (994201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408309)

Yeah, it's 3.0. Maybe it's time to check out the new 3.5 RC.

Re:Finally... (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408325)

Are you on 3.5? I am not too sure.
This article is about 3.5rc1.

Re:Finally... (4, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408149)

Finally, this should stop perennial "firefox is a memory hog" trolls. Hopefully.

This really hasn't been my experience, and I am not trolling. My experience, which is to say what actually happens to me when I am surfing , is that after awhile with a few (2 or 3) tabs open, FF memory usage rises to the point where my machine crawls to a stop, and I have to kill FF with the task manager.

Why is my FF experience different than the average FF fanboy? Why this is, I don't know. I do know that I am unwilling to get "under the hood" and edit config files, because I don't think I should have to.

This is my experience as what I believe to be "average" use.

Re:Finally... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408281)

FF memory usage rises to the point where my machine crawls to a stop, and I have to kill FF with the task manager.

And what is that point? How many MB?

Re:Finally... (3, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408321)

Finally, this should stop perennial "firefox is a memory hog" trolls. Hopefully.

This really hasn't been my experience, and I am not trolling. My experience, which is to say what actually happens to me when I am surfing , is that after awhile with a few (2 or 3) tabs open, FF memory usage rises to the point where my machine crawls to a stop, and I have to kill FF with the task manager.

Why is my FF experience different than the average FF fanboy? Why this is, I don't know. I do know that I am unwilling to get "under the hood" and edit config files, because I don't think I should have to.

This is my experience as what I believe to be "average" use.

That's not normal. Just because someone uses Firefox without it affecting system performance doesn't make that person a "FF fanboy." On XP, Vista, and 7, FF has no obvious effect on my system performance (on a Lenovo T61, my desktop, and my netbook, respectively). I have 3.0.11 on two of those and 3.5 on the other. The only thing I've done to get "under the hood" is install adblock plus. Right now I have 13 tabs open in Vista and FF is using 109 megs of RAM and 0-1% of my CPU cycles, with no noticeable effect on anything else. The only time I've ever felt FF3 affect system performance has been when running flash video on the netbook. Maybe flash ads are the cause of your woes; they're all removed with adblock. You might give it a try.

Re:Finally... (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408257)

The report doesn't consider plugins, which are the things that I think most people identify with Firefox feeling bloated or memory heavy. Vanilla Firefox may very well be light on memory, but once you load in a handful (or a few dozen) of your favorite plugins, the tests may not turn out the same.

Keep in mind, I am not attempting to imply that the results would certainly be worse, just that they are currently unknown to us and that it's something that needs to be considered.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408505)

Well, you shouldn't have a ga-freaking-zillion plugins. There is a pretty low signal to noise ratio. I'm suspicious of anyone who claims they need or really want a couple dozen plugins.

Re:Finally... (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408265)

Some of those "trolls" weren't about memory usage, but about overall degradation of user experience over time (hey, I have tons of memory, apps should use it).

I used Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox almost since its inception, plus functionality of few nice plugins isn't implemented in Opera (vast majority of features/plugins that, according to claims, keep people on Firefox, actually are), but the latter is the only browser which doesn't force me into managing it / using it in a particular way just so it remains usable (Chrome comes close to it, technically, but it lacks features; IE is of course even worse; didn't really try Safari; and what's funny...Mozilla Suite/Seamonkey is noticeably better than "leaner" Firefox)

As a matter of fact...Firefox 2.x was much better than 3.x (I check it every few months) when it comes to UI remaining responsive/etc. under heavy usage; which causes me to suspect they overshoot with memory usage reduction, missed that sweet spot of amount of memory required by particular codebase to work properly (and Gecko has it higher than others - how many years are we waiting for mobile version? Will it work on my 230MHz AMR phone with 12MB of user RAM? (Webkit and Opera do...))

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408405)

If its "finally" being resolved, then it was an actual problem, not a troll.

Funny how the fanboys always try to make out all criticism as "trolls".

Slashdot issues with Firefox (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408015)

My name is Rex. I am a seven year old black Labrador dog. My owner is a young man called Rob Malda. He has black hair and wiry legs and I have lived with him since I was three months old. I love him very much and would never bite him. He has a rough sex life and on a couple of occasions I have to get nasty with him and a couple of men to get my bowl of Alpo.

My favorite time is when Rob gets my leash out and takes me for a walk. Awhile back, Rob took me for a walk in the local park where I smelt in the air that lovely smell of a bitch in heat. I followed my nose and sure enough there was a human woman named Kathleen wearing a dress.

I ran round her sniffing as I went, when I got near her butt that lovely smell was at its strongest. It was a gorgeous aroma, and my penis began to unsheath itself before Rob gave me a playful but firm kick in the ribs, letting me know that I shouldn't sniff human women the way I sniff other dogs.

When we got home Rob fed me, and after a drink I laid down and went to sleep, but was awakened shortly afterward by noises coming out of the living room. Rob and Kathleen were on the sofa, Rob bent over and wearing a small pair of Fruit-of-the-Loom chonies and a matching cotton bra, Kathleen sitting next to him wearing a short skirt with no panties and a tank top with no bra. Kathleen had her hand in Rob's chonies and I could see that her hand was moving in them, but I could barely see that her other hand was doing something to Rob's ass. The steamy air carried the same scent I had smelled back at the park. That smell was driving me crazy with lust.

I went towards Kathleen, watching her as she pushed two fingers deep into Rob's behind, and her eyes where closed as she writhed in concert with Rob. I went over to Kathleen right before she opened her eyes and she squealed delightfully while Rob yelled,"Bad boy, Rex!" She pushed my head away before she could get a taste.

I went back to my bed, not understanding what I had done wrong, I was only doing what nature told me to do when a bitch is in heat.

Kathleen kept looking in my direction before she told Rob, "Oh, the poor dog. Why don't you let him join us, Rob?" "Here, boy!" Rob then said. I got up and approached the smell of her scent when she pulled her fingers out of her panties and offered them to me. The taste of her love juice was lovely, the best I have ever tasted. Even better than that time Rob let me have a piece of his dinner steak.

Kathleen then moved her hand back up to Rob's ass then bent over rob as if she was doing him like dogs do. I saw an opportunity and climbed on top of her, mounting her as she mounted Rob. A few wayward thrusts and I was inside her. As this happened she let out a moan of pleasure and her body shuddered.

The further I went into her the more Kathleen thrashed about and moaned in unison with Rob. she had one hand in Rob's ass while her other hand was pinching and pulling her nipples. Their bodies shook and convulsed as all three of us came together. We stayed like this until my cock shrunk and with a loud plop fell out. Kathleen and Rob both got up and Rob put on a robe. Kathleen came across to me and hugged me tight, telling me that I was a good fuck.

Rob said that it wouldn't be the last, and it wasn't.

It doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408027)

Unless you are talking about a system with severely limited memory, memory usage is probably not the right criteria for deciding which browser to use.

Something like "it doesn't show weird ass icons and bars when Slashdot decides to change CSS" is probably much more important. Firefox 3 totally screws up Slashdot in Default mode.

Re:It doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408063)

Something like "it doesn't show weird ass icons and bars when Slashdot decides to change CSS" is probably much more important.

I'm no web developer, but I don't quite believe that those artifacts are Firefox's fault. Why the staff would make broken changes on a live site is anybody's guess. Those artifacts are relatively minor annoyances but they won't serve the people who are considering switching to Linux and getting into open source only to discover that the primary forum for Linux nerds is every bit as broken as the Linux their Microsoft-loving buddies describe.

Re:It doesn't matter (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408121)

It's not just firefox either. Over the last couple weeks /. has been a major pain to read via I.E. 7 (what I'm stuck with at work) Opera (9.6 and 10 beta) and with Firefox.

The symptoms are not identical on all three browsers but none of the three has been working like it used to do.

Although it does seem like it's been better the last day or two.

I usually have /. as one of my always open tabs in Opera, but until the last couple days, I've been choosing otherwise, simply because /. was bogging down the entire browser even while I was off reading other tabs. But today, and now that I think of it yesterday as well it was not nearly as annoying.

Re:It doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408377)

Use noscript and prevent /. from using javascript, that will prevent it from fucking with performance. Sadly, /. has been becoming more and more noscript unfriendly. Maybe ill just go back to IRC if it gets worse.

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408075)

I don't really agree, that's ram which I could be using for other things, there isn't really any good reason why a browser or any other application should be allowed to take up a lot of unnecessary ram. In order to deal with the spikes, there has to either be enough ram or the OS has to page things over to swap. Neither of which is necessarily what you want. And it's really not acceptable to require people to pay for too much ram simply because the developers are too lazy to worry about the amount of ram that they're wasting.

Yes, getting CSS right is important, but let's be honest, as long as IE6 is making things look like ass, it's rather a moot point in most cases.

Of course not... (4, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408091)

Then a few years later we end up wondering how come our software now sucks ten times more ram than before despite no corresponding quantum leap in functionality.

Re:It doesn't matter (2, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408247)

Something like "it doesn't show weird ass icons and bars when Slashdot decides to change CSS" is probably much more important. Firefox 3 totally screws up Slashdot in Default mode.

Being as I get the exact same behavior on firefox (3.0.11), IE (6, 7, and 8), safari, and opera, I somewhat doubt it's firefox's fault.

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408285)

Default install of Opera 10 Unite renders /. perfectly, as far as I can tell.

Re:It doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

rtyhurst (460717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408363)

Hit the "change" button and the weird ass icons (etc.) disappear.

Same as when the display was eating post titles a while ago...

Re:It doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408383)

Something like "it doesn't show weird ass icons and bars when Slashdot decides to change CSS" is probably much more important. Firefox 3 totally screws up Slashdot in Default mode.

It's totally fucked up in Opera too. Aside from graphics elements appearing randomly all over the screen, it takes a minute to load the page before I can scroll the damn thing. Then it freezes and jerks around.

And the fucking front page that decides to load another 10 stories when IT wants to, and again freezes the screen till it's done.

I can turn off javascript and get a reasonable page that loads quickly and is responsive, or just close the window and go somewhere else.

How the hell they can unleash this piece of shit on a million users is beyond me.

Re:It doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408437)

Have you seen the average corporate america system? They are often running 1 gb max on Windows XP. Add in IT department mandated AV software, management software, business apps coded in a bizarre mixture of visual basic, java, and excel/word macros, auto updaters for 20 different apps, and Outlook or Lotus Notes. I've seen images where just the mandatory software that ran at boot had the workstations paging to disk. In that kind of environment, ram usage matters. 1 app being wasteful with ram is not a big deal, but when all the devs for all the apps you use decide to be lazy, it can be an issue. A web browser should not use excessive ram, and memory leaks are a problem in any app.

Re:It doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408491)

Unless you are talking about a system with severely limited memory, memory usage is probably not the right criteria for deciding which browser to use.

Chrome used over 1 GB in this test. Safari and Opera passed the 500 MB mark. That is an issue for far more machines than 'systems with severely limited memory'.

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408547)

No, its not that my systems have a low amount of memory installed in them. Its that I do a gazillion things at once on my computer. A couple virtual machines running sucking a gig each, Eclipse running, Five different browsers all running at the same time, email, feed reader, Open office running, Adobe PDF reader, scribus working on creating a pdf, and anti virus.

With all of that running, the 4 gigs of memory doesn't quite seem like enough sometimes. I'd certainly appreciate it if any one of my memory hogging programs could use less. But maybe I don't get a vote in this conversation because I have Chrome, IE, Safari, FireFox and Opera currently running ... actually lynx is also running but I don't think its the problem.

Re:It doesn't matter (3, Interesting)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408549)

It matters a lot in thin client scenarios. You want as many users as possible on the same server. Importantly, you want idle sessions to be friendly to the system by releasing as much memory as possible.

Re:It doesn't matter (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408573)

I'm not a Firefox user... does it really show ass icons?

Who uses vanilla FF anyway? (2, Insightful)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408067)

We all know that the thing that hogs the most memory in Firefox is all the extensions that people use to immitate other browsers... Who actually uses Firefox without a single extension and brags about how good it is anyway?

Re:Who uses vanilla FF anyway? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408123)

Because I can't use a browser without the vimperator extension anymore :)
Being able to surf the web without a mouse has been a big relief for my shoulder pain.

Re:Who uses vanilla FF anyway? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408359)

Do you specifically require vim-style controls or simply a browser that has full keyboard-only navigation built in? (as one might understand from the last sentence...)

Because if the latter...that's not something new or unique.

Re:Who uses vanilla FF anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408467)

Actually I don't see other browsers sporting the features I get via NoScript and Adblock Plus. In fact, the main reason I stick with Firefox over other "alternative" browsers is because of Noscript. I won't browse without it!

Re:Who uses vanilla FF anyway? (2, Insightful)

zullnero (833754) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408481)

I've never used an extension that "attempts to imitate other browsers". That's interesting, though. There's a string in the about:config where you can set your browser's id string, why install an extension that "imitates other browsers"?

I have some alternative download UI elements and forecastfox, a couple other plugins, but only an idiot would install anything and not expect SOME cost.

I think basically, my question is, how the hell does the GP get modded up past 1? And how is that insightful when it's either a troll or shows an amazing lack of understanding of how Firefox works? I don't get it.

Re:Who uses vanilla FF anyway? (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408497)

We all know that the thing that hogs the most memory in Firefox is all the extensions that people use to immitate other browsers... Who actually uses Firefox without a single extension and brags about how good it is anyway?

I use Firefox all the time with no extensions at all. Well, except for Ubufox which was installed for me by Ubuntu. And the Flash plugin.

Pfft. (4, Interesting)

solios (53048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408069)

I use Firefox and Safari regularly. I use two web browsers because each one does something vastly better than the other. Firefox for porn and online transactions, Safari for basic day-to-day anything that might include bookmark management (long story short, every browser I've used EXCEPT safari still does bookmark management using some variant of the horrific Netscape method - this includes IE, Mozilla, Firefox, etc - whereas Safari is the first browser I've used that does it in a non-bullshit fashion). However, useable as it is for bookmarks, Safari's a dick when it comes to password management and a few other things - most notably, how the browser handles while the system is paging out or otherwise shot in the ass with RAM overuse from other applications.

Long story short, under ANY kind of system load - we're talking ANYTHING above IDLE - Firefox is more responsive than Safari. When the system is shitting gold plated bricks trying to deal with the demands After Effects or Photoshop or Final Cut Pro is putting on it, Safari is beyond useless... and Firefox is responsive.

It all boils down to memory usage. Specifically, Swap/pagefile useage. On the Mac, firefox seems to be more responsive under load while safari is LESS responsive under the same conditions - it has ultimately has nothing to do with RAM usage and everything to do with how the respective applications use swap/pagefile.

Eat as much ram as you like... but until Apple does something about disk I/O, stay the HELL away from swap - or I'll use the application that does. (namely, Firefox.)

Re:Pfft. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408155)

I use Firefox and Safari regularly. I use two web browsers because each one does something vastly better than the other. Firefox for porn and online transactions, Safari for basic day-to-day anything that might include bookmark management... When the system is shitting gold plated bricks trying to deal with the demands After Effects or Photoshop or Final Cut Pro is putting on it, Safari is beyond useless... and Firefox is responsive.

So, you watch porn whilst using Photoshop or Final Cut Pro?

Re:Pfft. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408297)

I use Firefox and Safari regularly. I use two web browsers because each one does something vastly better than the other. Firefox for porn and online transactions, Safari for basic day-to-day anything that might include bookmark management... When the system is shitting gold plated bricks trying to deal with the demands After Effects or Photoshop or Final Cut Pro is putting on it, Safari is beyond useless... and Firefox is responsive.

So, you watch porn whilst using Photoshop or Final Cut Pro?

Better than coding for a living I bet.

Re:Pfft. (3, Funny)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408303)

Well of course, he needs to add some lens flare to the porn. Not everyone has simple fetishes, some people really have to work for it.

What is process architecture? (1)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408077)

... and is the difference between Firefox, Opera and Safari basically how efficient they are at freeing memory that's no longer used?

Re:What is process architecture? (1)

Aurisor (932566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408135)

I'll try to explain this in a way that makes sense to a non-programmer (at the expense of a little correctness).

Process architecture, very generally, is how programmers deal with the task of getting lots of things to happen at once. It's important to browsers, because you might have a youtube video playing in one tab, and be typing text into a form on another.

Traditionally, browsers like Firefox share threads between tabs. This saves memory because different tabs can share resources better, but if one tab does something funky and crashes, it'll take other tabs down with it. Chrome isolates its tabs; this is kind of wasteful, because the tabs can't share resources as well, but if one crashes, it doesn't take the whole thing down with it.

I hope that gives you a general idea of what's going on.

Re:What is process architecture? (5, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408295)

If you are trying to explain the mechanism to a layman, you need to steer clear of terms like "processes" and "threads" as part of the explanation.

Imagine the memory in your computer is like a housing development. At first, there is a lot of open space. The open space can be partitioned so that houses can be built. Each of those houses represents a process. As long as you have more space, you can build more houses.

Inside each house, you have rooms. In computer terms, these would be threads. Each room has a specific job - kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. Sometimes you need more rooms, so you have to build them. This may mean that the size of the house needs to grow, and the amount of acreage the house needs must grow with it.

As long as a house exists, it will continue to occupy the space it is on. In computer terms, the process will hold on to the memory it has already claimed. However, the corollary to this is that when the house is torn down, all the land it occupied is returned to the "free acreage".

If a room is remodeled, it will not result in a change to the actual house size. Adding more rooms will always take up more land, but removing those rooms doesn't change the occupied land size at all.

In the same way, a process can grow and grow, but as soon as it completes (you close a tab in the browser), the memory will go back to the operating system so other processes can use it. But if the process does not complete because it uses threads to build those same tabs, then the process will continue to take up that memory.

Also consider that a house may burn down. If a problem happens in one room, a house-wide emergency may erupt. A fire in the kitchen may engulf the entire house and bring it down.

In a perfect world, what happens in one house should not affect other surrounding houses. If one house burns down, the other houses around it should be fine. Same with processes. If a thread in one process crashes, it may bring down the whole process. However, since processes are separated from each other, other processes should not be affected.

Then why use threads at all? Why not use processes all the time, since they are clearly safer. Well, why don't we only have one room in our house? Threads are needed within processes to perform important roles. Also, since they all exist in the same process, they can share information (like using light switches downstairs to control lights in the foyer). So a careful combination of threads and processes are necessary to create any kind of meaningful application. There is no right or wrong answer, but Google seems to think that isolating each browsing experience from another is the right way. Firefox thinks that putting all the rooms in one house and simply growing the house is the right way. Everyone is different.

Re:What is process architecture? (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408349)

Thankyou for the very detailed explanation, although, at the end of the post you started to slip back into techie speech, and away from your house analogy. That post has explained a lot about how this works to me.

Re:What is process architecture? (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408301)

I'm pretty sure that Chrome also does a better job of dumping inactive tabs into the swapfile in the event that you end up biting off more than you can chew. I suppose this makes its slightly more wasteful approach to memory management more tolerable.

That all said, RAM is cheap these days, although the latest cost-cutting trend amongst computer manufacturers seems to be limiting the maximum amount of RAM that any one system can hold. I suppose that 32-bit will continue to play a role for some time, although I'm more than a little peeved that my 3-year-old Mac Mini can't hold more than 2GB, while many new netbooks max out at 1GB.

Re:What is process architecture? (1)

pasamio (737659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408453)

Microsoft seems to think that a 32-bit kernel can address up to 64GB of RAM (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778.aspx), not that they'll actually let you do that on anything that isn't supposed to run a server (http://www.geoffchappell.com/viewer.htm?doc=notes/windows/license/memory.htm). Limiting the amount of memory that a system can hold is something that has been around for a while on the part of a manufacturer, it is just that these days memory is getting cheaper and cheaper to the point that we can regularly hit those limits without costing a small fortune.

Re:What is process architecture? (1)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408381)

Actually, you should learn at least a little about the page cache and such before saying such things. You definitely do end up with sharing, even between processes. More so on Linux than Windows, but Windows still shares memory.

Re:What is process architecture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408175)

Chrome uses process per tab, while FF (and perhaps others) uses a single process for all tab. The per-process scheme uses up more memory due to process overhead. On the other hand, killing processes as tabs are closed also truly releases memory assigned to the processes. If the process lives on, as in FF, there are still memory allocation issues even if all chunks are orderly freed - depends on malloc/free implementation.

And no, memory footprint is just one issue.

Chrome stats probably erroneous (5, Informative)

l00sr (266426) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408083)

Summing the memory usage of all the Chrome processes is probably not the correct thing to do, as the memory usage indicated most likely includes shared libraries. I can't say this for sure about Vista, but on all sane operating systems, each shared library is loaded only once into memory, and then shared among different running programs.

Re:Chrome stats probably erroneous (5, Informative)

Sowbug (16204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408333)

The Chromium Blog [chromium.org] says:

If you're measuring memory in a multi-process application like Google Chrome, don't forget to take into account shared memory. If you add the size of each process via the Windows XP task manager, you'll be double counting the shared memory for each process. If there are a large number of processes, double-counting can account for 30-40% extra memory size.

To make it easy to summarize multi-process memory usage, Google Chrome provides the "about:memory" page which includes a detailed breakdown of Google Chrome's memory usage and also provides basic comparisons to other browsers that are running.

Re:Chrome stats probably erroneous (4, Informative)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408373)

For 30 tabs, you can actually get a lot more than that. If the base libraries and the shared code for chrome itself are counted 30 times, then that can easily double the amount of memory, or more. I also looked for that in the article and the author states he summed the memory for all processes, which is to say that the stats for Chrome are wrong. This would also apply to IE, had he been successful at collecting any.

Also, the Firefox memory, and most likely all the others, are wrong, too, because Firefox ends up using up memory that never gets released normally when you use JavaScript applications. Simply opening tabs and summing memory usage is an idiotic way to measure memory usage of a browser.

In short, you should try to find someone competent to run your memory benchmarks.

You are correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408475)

You are correct, summing is not the right thing to do, because the Chrome processes all share a lot of memory. I'm running a Chrome derivate at the moment, SRWare Iron, which uses generally a few tens of MB. So long as you don't use Flash it doesn't tend to reach the 100 MB mark and it runs blazingly fast on my computer (10 years old) where Firefox slows to the point of being unusable and IE8 is probably not even an option. Also, according to Process Explorer, if you consider its working set, Iron is a lot more memory friendly than other browsers, which probably explains why it isn't swapping even though I only have about 400 MB RAM total. But don't take your information from inane mathematically challenged internet articles, or this post for that matter. Why not simply try the browsers yourself and see which one works best for you?

Yeah, but do they have servers built in? (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408085)

Opera Unite! To help free the Iranian strangle hold on information!! ;-)

Why are we so worried about RAM (0)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408093)

You test all the browsers except the most up-to-date version of the most popular one. In other words, the one that matters the most.

I'm also not sure why ram is something that is worried about anymore. I don't find it important that firefox only uses 300mb or so of my 4GB. With RAM at an all time low and most modern computers having at least 2GB is just not worth worrying about as much as it has been in the past. Basically, I would rather have faster software that takes advantage of the memory that I use, then slower software that avoids using it. This metric would matter to me. To each their own, I suppose, but I see this as meaningless for most users.

Re:Why are we so worried about RAM (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408205)

Desktops are passe. Now people want browsers to run on netbooks, phones and such.

Re:Why are we so worried about RAM (1)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408421)

Did you read the article? Which phones run Vista? Which netbooks carry 4GB of memory? Per Wikipedia, by default, none - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_netbooks

To quote:

"Problem. You are interested in how the Google Chrome 3.0 Dev, Firefox 3.5 RC, Safari 4.0 for Windows, and Opera 10b web browsers manage memory on the Windows Vista operating system over moderate usage"

The tests were all run on a Windows Vista machine with 4GB of memory. If someone wants to run tests for "netbooks, phones" or "such" then this isn't the machine to test on.

Re:Why are we so worried about RAM (4, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408385)

This is a false dichotomy. Most software that uses less RAM is actually also faster.

In the early days, more RAM meant that you could cache some frequently used information in memory instead of recomputing it or loading it on demand. But there's a diminishing return. Nowadays, it's usually faster to recompute than read it all back from RAM, and if an interactive program uses a lot of RAM, then it's likely keeping a lot of junk in memory that it doesn't need. That tells you that the programmers didn't think things through carefully, and they probably didn't optimize other things that matter either.

IE8 hardly matters for people who choose a browser (2, Interesting)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408515)

You test all the browsers except the most up-to-date version of the most popular one. In other words, the one that matters the most.

Benchmarks are for people who choose software. Only a small minority choose IE. In a way, IE8 was included. It failed to compete due to lack of necessary features.

should have tweaked chrome (1, Informative)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408141)

IIRC its possible to instruct Chrome to not use its process-per-tab model via a command line option. Can't remember what it is, but I remember reading it existed. It seems likely that Chrome would have used less memory when running in that mode.

Re:should have tweaked chrome (1)

IceFox (18179) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408199)

That would make no sense though. The point of running chrome is that you use the process-per-tab. You can make firefox now download any images, disable flash css and javascript and then it uses even less memory, but that isn't how [normal] people use the browser.

Re:should have tweaked chrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408329)

What you're saying doesn't make any sense. You are suggesting that we completely ignore the options available. If a web browser came by default as you described (no images, flass, css, javasript, etc.), would it be fair to allow it to run in its memory-saving state, and thus thrash the competition, merely because that is how it ships be default? I'm sure you'll agree that that would make for an entirely meaningless test, as you are no longer comparing the same things.

The reason Chrome hogs more memory is because of the nifty new feature. If Firefox (and all the other browsers) implemented the same feature, then it would be a fair test, and you could properly compare the results. But as it is, they don't (except maybe IE8, I think...) so a proper comparison can only be achieved by disabling the additional features.

If you are comparing the browsers as a whole, then of course you should leave the options where they are, but this test is a measure of the browsers' efficiency when it comes to memory-usage, and so testing them in the manner in which you are suggesting yields meaningless results.

Which browser has the best memory-usage? Let's compare them!
Firefox - 100MB
Chrome using separate processes - 200MB
It would appear that Firefox is better at handling memory than Chrome. But is it? Maybe, when either the extra features are disabled in Chrome or are implemented in Firefox, you might find different results. As it stands, these results only show that Firefox uses less memory than Chrome, when Chrome is using a different technology. I'm not suggesting that Chrome is better than Firefox, just that the method you describe for comparing them is invalid.

Re:should have tweaked chrome (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408367)

In fact, you can get Firefox to work the quickest by selecting "File" - "Work Offline." Pretty secure, too.

Nice to see, but... (2, Informative)

timothyb89 (1259272) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408147)

I'm glad to hear that Firefox has finally improved its memory usage. Although my system has plenty of memory, I still find that the amount of memory FF3 requires causes a very annoying slowdown.

Of late, I've been using Midori [twotoasts.de] as an alternative. With it's current git version and a recent WebKit build (r44951), I've found it to perform better than any other browser I've used (opera, konqueror, firefox). Although it does have a few minor kinks, it supports pretty much every site I've come across and works considerably better with mozilla plugins (namely, flash) than Konqueror and Opera.

Currently with an instance I've been using for the last few days, Midori is using 77 MBs of memory (for comparison, my other running browsers: opera- 120 MBs, Konqueror- 91 MBs, Firefox- 119 MBs). I didn't do any even moderately sophisticated benchmarks suck as those in the article, but that beats the average and final amounts of memory of FF3.5 as shown in the article. Obviously this is not Windows-friendly, but I'd say Midori deserves some more attention, considering that (for me, at least) it outperforms all the other major browsers.

how is his memory usage that low? (2, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408161)

Is the Linux version of Firefox particularly horrid or something? When using more than 10 tabs or so, my memory usage is typically in the 600mb+ range. It's currently taking 1.1g resident for about 40 tabs. I'm on x86-64, but even if we assume there's a full doubling of RAM usage due to the architecture, that's still 550mb equivalent, which his test never hits even with 150 tabs.

Re:how is his memory usage that low? (2, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408179)

When using more than 10 tabs or so, my memory usage is...

Yes, I notice when I have a huge number of tabs open with a mixture of Flash and other multi-media running, my browser slows down too. Wonder why that is...

Re:how is his memory usage that low? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408335)

It must be either the Linux FF client or your particular install, which is a pity. On Windows you would see a sub 100 MB footprint with 10 tabs (like I see right now with 10 on Vista64). I'd have expected the Linux version to be more memory efficient than Windows.

I thot somebody died (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408237)

"In memory of Chrome" was how I first skimmed it

Why not testing IE 8? (5, Insightful)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408245)

The author says he didn't included IE 8 because there was no way to start it without opening a new window for every invocation!
I would have preferred to have it included despite this "big drawback" and have this thing explained in a note.
A partially meaningful test (upper limit?) is always better than no test at all!
I fear that this omission is to "protect" bad performances even in comparison of a browser by a company which seems to be in deep competition with Microsoft.

Re:Why not testing IE 8? (3, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408305)

It would be an unfair test. If you opened each page in a new window with IE8, I believe that would launch separate processes for each. Since the other browsers are having each site loaded in a tab, and two of those browsers (Opera and Safari) do not create new processes for each tab, IE8 would be unfairly penalized. It would also be unfair to compare it against Chrome, since Chrome handles its own process creation and destruction from within the browser, whereas if you opened many sites in different IE8 windows, it would be Vista handling the creation and destruction of the processes.

The number of caveats and asterisks would essentially make the entire test meaningless as a measure.

Re:Why not testing IE 8? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408361)

So what? IE cannot be tested?

Re:Why not testing IE 8? (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408327)

How much of the recorded memory usage of Chrome is actually shared between processes?

Tabs hell (3, Insightful)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408253)

I live in tabs hell. I have... uncountable numbers of tabs open right now--over 9,000, probabaly. My Firefox memory usage can easily push 1400mb. When that happens I kill it and reload, and the memory resets at around 400-600mb.

Seeing this graph, I can only imagine what Chrome would do to me.

Re:Tabs hell (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408311)

No amount of good programming can help when dealing with such moronic user behavior. 900 tabs would be stupid, 9000 is a whole other plane of stupidity

What 9000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408401)

Hey Vageta, YHBT.

Firefox 3.0 vs Firefox 3.5, night and day diff. (1, Informative)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408365)

To all who bash Firefox, make sure you are using newest 3.5 and not some previous version.

It seams to me that lots of people haven't even recognized a small difference in number, but it is a big milestone for Firefox internally.

Firefox: 3.0.11 (4, Informative)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408559)

It's great that in the future Firefox might be better, but here and now, the latest stable version is 3.0.11, and while Firefox has many redeeming qualities, speed, memory usage and general performance is not one of them.

Re:Firefox: 3.0.11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408571)

You can get the 3.5 release candidate from here [mozilla.com] .

Invalid bechmark (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408463)

I am sure that this is true for all of the browsers, but in Opera's case...

The machine has 4GB in question and Opera is set to "automatic" for the memory cache (default). According to this [avencius.nl] article, this instructs Opera to use up to ~10% of the system memory. This is quite tunable based on the environment, so one could easily optimize for a low-end machine and have satasfactory performance. The browser using the memory effectively is the more interesting test, which this benchmark fails to determine. An interesting detail in the graphs is how sharp the memory reclaim cycles are, where the smoother indicates better memory management. The graphs indicate that Opera does a good job in this regard.

et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408473)

I wish people would learn the difference between "et al" and "etc".

Re:et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408493)

Agreed.

Low Firefox Memory Usage (3, Informative)

hackel (10452) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408537)

Wow, I *wish* I could get Firefox 3.5 to use so little memory! As I write this Firefox is using 1821M VIRT, 944M RES...and I only have 23 tabs open! Firefox memory usage has always been abysmal for me. Does Firefox perform drastically differently on Linux than on Windows? I would be quite horrified if it actually performed better on Windows, but I don't understand how it possibly managed to be so low...I've never seen Firefox use less than .5G with even a few tabs open for a while... I realize my personal experience involves extensions, plugins and other things which suck of RAM, it still seems terribly high for me. If I leave it running for several days, it will peak 2G and I have to restart the browser.

Opera (2, Insightful)

Xyde (415798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408579)

Interesting to see that Opera is not the memory sipping, lightweight browser that it's proponents make it out to be.

funny you should mention this today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408601)

I just added another 4G of RAM to my new Fedora 11 x86_64 workstation because the 4G that I started with wasn't enough to keep it from bogging to a slow crawl today (after running mostly Firefox for less than a week).

And I haven't even installed the 64-bit Flash plugin yet!

copy on write pages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408603)

this test is meaningless in assessing chrome. totaling all memory for each individual chrome process does not indicate how much memory they use in aggregate. much of the program code and data is shared between processes and thus over counted.

64-bit Firefox on Windows (1)

nemesisrocks (1464705) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408605)

If you're running a 64-bit version of Windows (Vista x64, etc), then give serious thought to running a 64-bit build of Firefox [mozilla-x86-64.com] .

I've found this build to not only be noticably faster, but also infinitely more stable and less of a memory hog.

In terms of numbers, I've had only one crash in the last 8 months, and at the moment, it's using 159MB with 15 tabs open. I've never seen the official 32-bit build perform like that...

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