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Firefox Notably Improved In Tom's Hardware's Latest Browser Showdown

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the today-on-chrome-tomorrow-who-knows dept.

Firefox 218

Billly Gates writes "Tom's Hardware did another benchmark showdown, since several releases of both Firefox and Chrome came out since their last one. Did Mozilla clean up its act and listen to its users? The test results are listed here. Firefox 13.01 uses the least amount of RAM with 40 tabs opened, while Chrome uses the highest (surprisingly). Overall, Firefox scored medium for memory efficiency, which measures RAM released after tabs are closed. Also surprising: IE 9 is still king of the lowest RAM usage for just one tab. Bear in mind that these tests were benchmarked in Windows 7. Windows XP and Linux users will have different results, due to differences in memory management. It is too bad IE 10, which is almost finished, wasn't available to benchmark." Safari and Opera are also along for the fight.

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who gives a fuck (-1, Troll)

fitteschleiker (742917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575657)

I got 16gb of ram who gives a squatting fuck?

Re:who gives a fuck (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575681)

Perhaps those of us designing standard software sets for an enterprise... too bad none of the browsers tested are fit as they all use some retarded form of automatic update that will break said standards.

Re:who gives a fuck (-1, Redundant)

fitteschleiker (742917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575755)

fuck enterprise. they can pay for what they need. maybe enterprise users shouldn't be opening 40 tabs if they have low ram. nearly all the ram usage is from the pages being opened, all that really matters is the browser has the features you want and it releases the memory so it doesn't crash the whole computer after a day of running.
Why can't slashdot geeks be more focused on awesome, instead of the needs of poor people?

Re:who gives a fuck (1, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575835)

Because many /. geeks are poor people?

Re:who gives a fuck (0, Flamebait)

Pringless (2679219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575953)

Very few Slashdotters actually are poor people. Even those writing from third world countries. Not many of slashdotters have to use webcafes or really worry about money. You're just living way beyond your means, but you are still not poor.

Re:who gives a fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575837)

I put the tip of my tongue near the bottom of your ass crack. I then slurp along the crack all the way to the top!

Now who is bootyass process...?

Re:who gives a fuck (5, Insightful)

NotBorg (829820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575931)

Why "enterprises" can't customize open source software is a bit of a mystery to me. Interns really are cheap these days (esp. by $$$ enterprise $$$ standards). Seriously enterprise customers want a browser specifically tailored to their needs for absolutely nothing. It's funny.

Auto updates can be turned off both at compile time option and as an installed option. It's never been easier to bring in a custom patch set and build software and yet they're still bitch'n. They don't even have to pay a fucking license fee but act as if they're paying customers. They act like they dished out thousands of dollars for support like they do for their Oracle database software or Microsoft servers. They'll pay MS and Oracle per processor/core for less customization but when it comes to Mozilla they expect $0.00 to get them everything.

Enterprise babies need to grow up and L2.

Re:who gives a fuck (2)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576191)

Enterprises want someone else to blame if it goes titsup.com. enterprise managers are wimps and clueless

Re:who gives a fuck (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576473)

Seems TitsUp.com is a premium domain that is for sale ... could be nice name for computer-repair shop (ahem..), but not for 10K USD.

Re:who gives a fuck (4, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575951)

firefox tools/options/advanced/update
But you may not be qualified to install firefox if you couldn't figure that out.

Re:who gives a fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576179)

Doesn't matter. This setting is not selectable at installation and while it may be selectable by some manual edit of an ini file that type of manipulation is likely to break over time. How would you deploy a well tested version of firefox (post 3.6) to 1000 computers without worrying about them being updated to some untested version in the near future? I've done some reading on firefox esr and in it's current state it is still not enterprise ready... even unofficial builds like Waterfox are better suited to an enterprise model.

Re:who gives a fuck (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576497)

How would you deploy a well tested version of firefox (post 3.6) to 1000 computers without worrying about them being updated to some untested version in the near future?

If you and your staff are not incompetent it's trivial. If it's NOT trivial you have MUCH worse problems to worry about than upgrading browsers, as it is then apparent that your entire network is as fragile as an eggshell. Making any kind of changes whatsoever probably has sweeping deleterious effects that never get fully troubleshooted.

Re:who gives a fuck (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576423)

firefox tools/options/advanced/update But you may not be qualified to install firefox if you couldn't figure that out.

So can you configure the .msi to set that option by default? What's that? Mozilla doesn't ship Firefox as an .msi? Oh.

we give a fuck (1)

anared (2599669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575807)

Those of us who like a realiable and well working browser?

Re:we give a fuck (0)

fitteschleiker (742917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575815)

nothing to do with reliability or "well-working-ness"

Re:who gives a fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576209)

You should, because our new super-duper upgraded browser requires 17GB of RAM.

Why IE9 did well (5, Insightful)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575673)

Because the browser is part of the OS, the RAM is already in use as part of the windows explorer.

Re:Why IE9 did well (4, Interesting)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575789)

It is interesting that IE uses 1276 MB for 40 tabs, so 1276/40 = 31.9 MB/tab, while with only one tab open it takes 31 MB, i.e. there seems to be no memory overhead for the software itself. For comparison, Firefox uses 794 MB for 40 tabs, so 19.85 MB/tab, and 61 MB when there is only one tab open, so an overhead 41 MB for the software itself.

Re:Why IE9 did well (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575867)

while with only one tab open it takes 31 MB, i.e. there seems to be no memory overhead for the software itself

Which is exactly what the GP was saying: that any browser written into a specific OS can use the facilities of the OS itself to mask its true size.
Its sort of like measuring the memory impact of the Chrome browser running on a Chrome-OS tablet.

But disregarding memory utilization by the browser itself, your numbers are pretty interesting all by themselves.

What the heck is IE doing with that extra 11meg per tab when there are multiple tabs open? The web page itself is only the size that it is, and presumably the tests all loaded the same pages in the same order. 11meg is a pretty good guess for the average size of pages. Its almost as if IE build a page in the background and handing the whole thing to the render engine while keeping a copy as backup.

I wonder if the tests were run in a memory constrained machine? The idea that unused ram is wasted ram might lead some of these developer to use what is available more or less freely depending on available ram.

Re:Why IE9 did well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575913)

any browser written into a specific OS can use the facilities of the OS itself to mask its true size.

Then I presume your bloat formula accounts for all the dependencies for GNU right? Ohhhh double standards I get it... I challenge you to make an apples to apples comparison: measure the cost of X, Mesa, GL, window manager, etc, etc, etc + Firefox vs. Windows 7 + IE 9.

"masking its true size" ROFL

Hey guys IE9 is cheating by using OS libraries!!!!!!!!!

Re:Why IE9 did well (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576033)

Yes in some cases it does apply to some GNU situations. Its just that there are very few browsers written into any other OS.

The size of KDE's built in browser, Konqueror, often could not be distinguished from the rest KDE because it was dependent on having so much else of KDE installed. Installing on top of Gnome pulled in a mountain of other packages. Even when Gnome had X, a window manger and all the same linux core libraries already installed.

So in your childish attempt to make a point you've only proven mine.

And the fact that you don't understand the difference between running an application under an operating system and running an application as PART of an operating system is pretty telling.

Re:Why IE9 did well (3, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576029)

Because each IE tab is it's own instance(like Chrome). Each FF tab is under the parent process.

Re:Why IE9 did well (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576199)

The idea that unused ram is wasted ram might lead some of these developer to use what is available more or less freely depending on available ram.

Oh, how I hate that. Available != unused.

Modern operating systems use memory for caching, and while it's available, the developer's assumption that it's better used for only his program instead of the system as a whole tends to be wrong. It's especially wrong when the developer decides to use it for caching what's on disk. That is almost always better left to the OS, which can take into account other disk accesses that you don't see.

I run dozens of programs at the same time, and expect them to play ball. If they don't, and assume every user is a single-tasking full-screen user, and only their program matters, the programs go in the trash.

Re:Why IE9 did well (1)

ntropia (939502) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575923)

The fact that IE is reported using less RAM is a sign. It means that the people who wrote the article don't know necessarily what they are talking about (and, by extension, that among tech sites, not only Slashdot is sucking more and more, recently).

Re:Why IE9 did well (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575961)

Or IE is doing what chrome does and has the overhead on every single tab. Which I would point out is why chrome is so high on memory usage compared.

Re:Why IE9 did well (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576079)

Good point. But, Chrome uses 1449 MB for 40 tabs, so 36 MB per tab, and uses 91 MB when there is only one tab open, so Chrome has an overhead (unlike IE) of 55 MB for the software.

Re:Why IE9 did well (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576349)

Good point. But, Chrome uses 1449 MB for 40 tabs, so 36 MB per tab, and uses 91 MB when there is only one tab open, so Chrome has an overhead (unlike IE) of 55 MB for the software.

Personally, I think anyone who runs 40 tabs needs to learn about bookmarks and/or window management...

Re:Why IE9 did well (1)

Agent ME (1411269) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576007)

IE's overhead could be per-tab.

Re:Why IE9 did well (2)

AsmCoder8088 (745645) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576237)

I would like to point out that your calculation of the memory per tab is slightly off. Because the first tab includes memory for both itself and the software overhead, in order to compute the actual memory/tab you need to remove the first tab's contribution from the computation.

In other words, using your observation of 61MB for the first tab in Firefox, you would subtract 61 from 794MB to arrive at 733MB for the remaining 39 tabs. This yields a more accurate memory/tab value of 18.79MB.

You could do the same for the IE memory/tab value as well, except as you noted, there is no software overhead, so the memory/tab would be the same even if you factored it out.

Re:Why IE9 did well (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576461)

Yes, I know. I made an approximation because I thought it would make it easier for readers to follow. I should not have written the numbers out to so many digits since I knew they were approximate, though.

Re:Why IE9 did well (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576485)

They looked at the RAM usage for the process/image, instead of the difference in free+cache RAM between not running and running? Flaw process is flawed.

Re:Why IE9 did well (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575939)

Whatever you think of MS, they have cleaned up IE and it is a better browser. Yes, one of the reasons is that it is only on MS Windows. For this reason I would say it should not be in the running at all, and they should test on various platforms. However, this is a browser on MS Windows test, so the results are for MS only. The advantage is inherent, but not unfair. The results are likely meaningless on any other platform.

That said, the memory has not effect on total rankings. I don't know if they did this to make sure Chrome scored well, or if it was a legitimate decision. In any case, most of us have large amounts of ram, so 10 megabytes per web page is not going to kill us. What I would like to know, and what is important, is who memory is used over time. This is where Firefox used to be really bad.

So when i look at this test, what I want is HTML5, reliability, and CSS. In CSS and Acid3, it is Safari. In reliability it is Opera. With HTML5 it is IE. Chrome does not really do anything with which I am deeply concerned. In the results Chrome and Firefox are a statistical tie. As I mentioned, it is easy to believe the test may have been altered so that chrome would win. The "ads by google" provides a motive.

IE essentially in losing place with Safari seems suspicious considering it did so well in some many test.

Re:Why IE9 did well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576287)

Hello Mr Windows 98, I hope you're enjoying your ActiveDesktop widgets.

If you check Process Explorer on a modern version, Windows Explorer doesn't load mshtml.dll, which is the meat of IE. Also, the memory savings for sharing other DLLs is very minimal on a modern system, and probably mostly improves startup time (where IE was mediocre). Rendering a big pile of HTML/CSS/JS requires a bunch of RAM which simply can't be hidden somewhere.

Not surprising... (1, Redundant)

knarf (34928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575675)

It does not surprise me that IE has the lowest working storage use when idle (only one tab open) as parts of IE (eg. the rendering engine) are most likely loaded on boot because they are used elsewhere in the operating system.

Isn't IE embedded into the OS where possible (1, Redundant)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575683)

"IE 9 is still king of the lowest RAM usage for just one tab"

But, I thought IE was embedded into WinXP and Win7?

No wonder if it is.

Re:Isn't IE embedded into the OS where possible (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575717)

embedded or not it doesnt help since ie9 has a ram of 1276 with 40 tabs in that TH's chart [tomshardware.com] . Firefox is not embedded and they win which proves that even if a software is embedded or not it all comes down to the devs or the code in other words.

Re:Isn't IE embedded into the OS where possible (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575845)

Actually it has a lot to do with the isolation model. Both Chrome and IE have a process per tab. Firefox has one process for the whole set of tabs. This means that Firefox is much more likely to go completely non-responsive when - for example - flash is in the middle of crashing (which it is lief to do). In fact, I see Firefox do this fairly often. Chrome and IE on the other hand, use a process per tab which allows them to have better isolation of one tab from another and also allows other tabs to remain responsive when Flash does it thing or some script doesn't run very quickly. (Note that they can't always be 100% responsive when one tab goes south as they do need a process coordinating all the others - but in general they do better than FF does at remaining responsive). Although the memory cost for loading the same DLL, over and over is negligible (simply another handle object), there are resources that can not be shared between processes (due to either OS design, browser protection / isolation scheme, etc.). So the browsers that start a process per tab gain some small security benefit, responsiveness benefit, etc. But they also lose out on the "small memory footprint" since they have to have a copy per process (tab) of the non-shareable resources. Knowing the design, you should absolutely expect there to be a threshold of number of tabs where FF will have less memory use than IE or Chrome.

Re:Isn't IE embedded into the OS where possible (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575883)

That is a myth spread by Google from thee first days of Chrome. Open 50 tabs, check out taskmgr (or top). Do you have 50 chrome processes listed? No you won't. In the early days Chrome was limited to 10 processes, these days I'm not sure how many. But definitely not one process per tab. Dunno about IE.

Re:Isn't IE embedded into the OS where possible (4, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575919)

Your knowledge is outdated. Firefox has separated plugins like Flash into their own processes using plugin-container multiple versions ago. You can kill the process without bringing Firefox down, and in fact I've done just that many times.

Re:Isn't IE embedded into the OS where possible (2)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575965)

That's why firefox spawns plugins off in a separate process.

Too bad for others (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575689)

I left ie cause of known problems. I got sick of it, I went with firefox and I was happy for a bit until the memory leak started to puke all over my system. Then I went with Chrome and I'm happy with it performance. This benchmark wont make me go with firefox or ie back again even if they got their act straight up. reason is simple, they got the change to fix these problems in the first place and they didn't listen to it's users and continued to release their products with those problems... too bad for them. Besides, I'm happy with Chrome.

Re:Too bad for others (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575745)

So what you're saying is, you're entitled to fixes NOW, not later? Thanks for letting us know, enjoy your browser hopping.

Re:Too bad for others (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575929)

No, he's saying that a screw up long ago prevents him from ever looking at it again.

Its the old "cut off your nose to spite your face method" of software selection. There is no redemption in some people's eyes.

Re:Too bad for others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576323)

Maybe he is saying "Besides, I'm happy with Chrome"? Maybe logical people need a real reason to switch when they find something The Just Works(tm) for them?
 
Don't be a little fanboi, crying that someone doesn't want to be bothered with your browser when they're happy with where they're at today.

We're entitled to whatever fixes EXIST now, (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576417)

and if they're de-facto on Chrome (i.e. fewest obvious bugs, highest overall stability) then they're free to choose Chrome until Firefox becomes the browser with the highest number of fixes that EXIST now.

Re:Too bad for others (3, Insightful)

r1348 (2567295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575753)

You assume that those memory management problems were both easy to spot and fix. They weren't.
Kudos for the Firefox devs for finally improving the memory usage situation.

Re:Too bad for others (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575779)

You assume that those memory management problems were both easy to spot and fix. They weren't.
Kudos for the Firefox devs for finally improving the memory usage situation.

why was it still pushed to stable branch then? (I use firefox though, never had too bad memory problems with it and it hasn't crashed in ages).

Re:Too bad for others (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575979)

why was it still pushed to stable branch then? (I use firefox though, never had too bad memory problems with it and it hasn't crashed in ages).

Congrats, you answered your question in the same sentence you asked it.

For the vast majority of people, most never saw the leaks, because they use a browser , then exit it, and do other work. The OS recovers all the leaked memory at that time.

But some people only know how to use a browser, and that is all the do on a computer. (facebook junkies mostly). They fire it up, and stay there for hours on end. Leaks matter to these people only when their machine slows down (Most are not computer literate enough to detect a leak until it gets rather large).

Re:Too bad for others (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576279)

But some people only know how to use a browser, and that is all the do on a computer. (facebook junkies mostly). They fire it up, and stay there for hours on end.

Weeks, even. Some people use a browser for everything, including documents and e-mail, and never close it. Sleep and hibernate are godsends for them, because they don't have to restart their browser ever.
They also tend to run with a blown up window with tabs doing the job of the taskbar - if it wasn't for the clock, they might as well run in kiosk mode.

Personally, I don't use tabs much - I prefer separate windows, so I can do things like cut and paste between them without losing focus. My taskbar provides me with a list of browser windows, so I don't have to waste precious vertical space on a tab bar.

Re:Too bad for others (4, Informative)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575993)

For anyone who's actually interested, the Memshrink Blog [mozilla.org] is a fascinating account of how a team of developers have been reducing Firefox's memory usage. Interestingly, Firefox's memory usage has never been particularly bad (it just seems to be because web pages are so much more complicated), but addons have had horrible memory problems for a long time (and unfortunately, that's pretty hard to detect).

more information on firefox (4, Informative)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575735)

there is a website called are we slim yet [areweslimyet.com] tracking the memory usage of firefox.

Re:more information on firefox (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575861)

This obsession with memory use is wrecking Firefox. Chrome is much, much faster and I prefer to trade memory for performance.

Firefox does stupid things like delaying image decoding until the image is on screen, making the whole browser stutter like crazy. I turn that off because the reason my computer has lots of ram is to avoid that. Can't they even detect when you have lots of free RAM and make use of it? Of course not, that would make FF look bad in pointless benchmarks.

Re:more information on firefox (1)

FooBarWidget (556006) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575959)

They do that because the users with 300 tabs open and users who are on Pentium II with 512 MB RAM complain about memory usage.

Re:more information on firefox (2)

VMSBIGOT (933292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576503)

It just sucks there is no way to find out how much RAM/Virtual memory there is via the OS. No, wait....

Games have been able to figure out recommended settings based on hardware configuration for well over a decade at least.

Re:more information on firefox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575973)

Where is the setting to turn that off?

Re:more information on firefox (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576001)

This. Mod up.

The stuttering behaviour became extra prevalent starting with Firefox 13 (for me anyway). Sites like Amazon would cause the browser to stutter while trying to scroll through content before images were loaded. A complete uninstall + clean + reinstall of FF13 didn't help. Rolling back to FF12 worked fine. Disk = Intel 510-series SSD, under AHCI on Windows XP SP3. Moving my FF cache to a MHDD did not improve things either, so it's not disk I/O which is was the cause.

I then tried Chrome. Holy *shit* that thing is fast, and I don't just mean loading pages -- I'm talking about interactivity/responsiveness within the browser (for keystrokes, mouse clicks, etc.) too. What I didn't like about Chrome: 1. tab-only (I do not like tabs, and have tried many times to use them but just cannot do it), 2. its lets-fork-a-new-process model (which is part of its original design from the very beginning) makes it very hard to tolerate when using Task Manager (yes I know Chrome has its own internal "manager" that can let you kill off a specific tab/page), 3. quite possibly the worst Configuration page/setup I've ever seen, with lots and lots of adjustments missing, and finally 4. a non-user-friendly bookmark interface (lots of Chrome users complain about this and state hands down that Firefox does this a lot better. The biggest ding against Chrome was when they removed the Bookmark button/icon so now you have to go through 3-4 clicks to expand your bookmarks). Back to Firefox I went...

The memory bloat problem in FF is real, but a lot of it has to do with how people use their browser. Most of my colleagues do insane shit like load up 20 tabs on launch and leave those open at all times. Who the fuck uses a computer like that? Oh, wait... well, I certainly don't. Many of those pages my colleagues load use Flash, lots of Javascript, etc.. One even loads 6-7 tabs filled with stock-ticker-esque pages; yeah, those are going to be real CPU and memory friendly. You can even see evidence of this here on Slashdot; "Who in the name of satan has 40 tabs open? *checks tabs* Guilty as charged m'lord". Stop abusing your computer!

As I see it, the biggest complaints about memory usage seem to be coming from a demographic of people who aren't using their system in a resource-friendly manner. People leave their browsers open for days, sometimes a full week. I'm a system administrator -- when I'm done with something, I close it. Same goes with memory management: when you're done with something, free() it. Folks over the years have tried hard to argue with me about this point ("no, a good garbage collector.........") -- all bullshit. Every GC on the planet is shit. Free memory when you're done with it, and use threads (preferably on an OS where userland threads map more or less 1:1 to a kernel thread, and use a programming language where this thread model exists (e.g. not Ruby!)) so that allocations can be freed when the thread ends. This isn't rocket science; KISS principle all the way.

It would greatly benefit everyone if they learned be a little more conscientious of how to use a computer in a resource-friendly way. Otherwise we're doing the exact thing that can never be achieved: trying to solve social problems (usage behaviour) with technology. It never works.

Re:more information on firefox (5, Insightful)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576435)

As I see it, the biggest complaints about memory usage seem to be coming from a demographic of people who aren't using their system in a resource-friendly manner.

People should not need to do that. Quit trying to force me to adapt to the machine instead of the other way round. This isn't a Sinclair Spectrum, it should be able to handle 40 tabs without crashing or filling up all my RAM.

Re:more information on firefox (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576333)

This obsession with memory use is wrecking Firefox. Chrome is much, much faster and I prefer to trade memory for performance.

So do I. System performance, that is, not single app performance.
Both the OS and I do more than one thing at a time, and I don't play the game of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

RAM Usage (3, Insightful)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575749)

I know it's now cool to backlash against chrome users when they talk about "memory usage" but they're simply just using the wrong phrase. YES chrome uses more actual bytes of memory and always has, but what it does with that memory makes it work so much faster than Firefox. Typical idiot vernacular causes you to say "firefox uses more memory" when in fact what they mean is "it is slower and less responsive."

Let's get a grip here people, it's 2012. If your computer doesn't have 4-8 gigs of ddr3 ram, you're doing it wrong. Chrome is allowed to use as much memory as it wants as long as it gets the job done better than anyone else.

Re:RAM Usage (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575777)

The job being, providing your browsing habits to google in the most efficient way possible.

The inferior chrome junk (2)

Snaller (147050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576145)

There is nothing "cool" about - that they by design decision refuse to reflow text on pages (which is a HUGE problem on mobile devices) just means the idiots at google have entered the evil club.
If they ever come out that will be a happy day indeed.

Only kids care about "cool"

Re:RAM Usage still a small issue on phones (1)

lindi (634828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576369)

I totally agree on desktop. On phones it still makes sense to optimize memory usage though. I'm using chromium 18 on my openmoko that only has 128 MB of RAM and it's about 20 MB of it is constantly in swap. Do you know any tricks that I could use to reduce the memory usage at least slightly? I've considered using compressed swap (compcache) when I can upgrade the kernel.

Re:RAM Usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576375)

You hit the nail on the head. Firefox's big problem has always been UI responsiveness. The menu functions still have a very noticeable lag to them, something which is not acceptable in this day-and-age. It just *feels* slow.

I found it interesting that Firefox Mobile dumps the whole "XUL" javascript UI idea. This, despite the fact a modern cellphone is a much faster computer than the machine we used to run those old Mozilla betas on. Perhaps they're half-way into admitting that it never could be made to work correctly?

Surprisingly? No. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575751)

Chrome runs each tab in a separate process, this means the entire memory space of the browser is copied to each tab.

A browser that runs each tab as it's own thread never copies the memory space. Even if I run the 64-bit version of Firefox in parallel with 32-bit Chrome, on the same tabs, Chrome is chewing up 2-3x more memory. The only way we'll see an end to this is if Google heel-face-turn's on the "one tab, one process" ass backwards tabbing model.

I should mention that anything that crashes the main thread, crashes all the tabs anyways, so all that Google's engineers managed to do was make it so that you have more processes that can crash. I've been having nothing but this kind of crashing problem... where the main process pauses due to activity in the taskbar and stops responding for a minute or two. Only Chrome is doing this on Windows.

Maybe's Chrome's reached a tipping point of stupid innovations and it's time to go back to Firefox with it's more conservative memory usage.

MSIE isn't too bad, but it's always two steps behind Firefox.

Re:Surprisingly? No. (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575855)

I should mention that anything that crashes the main thread, crashes all the tabs anyways, so all that Google's engineers managed to do was make it so that you have more processes that can crash.

I don't use Chromium too often, but when I do use it I see many zombie processes... apparently a side effect of the way they handle tabs.

This is on Arch Linux.

Re:Surprisingly? No. (1)

akeeneye (1788292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575891)

Caveat: I have no detailed knowledge of the Chrome architecture. That said:
  1. I rather doubt that the tab processes are forks of the entire browser. I expect that that the main process execs tab processes as needed. On my system I see one big (virtual mem) chromium-browser process and a number of much smaller child processes of that.
  2. Shared memory. All of the tab processes should be sharing their code pages at minimum. Kernel geeks, correct me if I'm wrong on that.

So no, the resident memory usage of Chrome is not going to be sizeof(Chrome main process) * number_of_tabs_open.

Does mem usage in tabs matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575757)

When every computer now comes with at least 3-4 gb of ram, who cares if a program uses 1.5 gigs?

Also, if you're using 40 tabs at once... well, then the obvious question arises: What are you doing that requires all those tabs to be open?

I don't think most normals have 40 tabs open at once.

Re:Does mem usage in tabs matter? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576135)

When every computer now comes with at least 3-4 gb of ram, who cares if a program uses 1.5 gigs?

The seventies called and asked if we can have more than one process running. I would've told them yes, we've been multitasking for years, but after your statement I'm not so sure anymore.

Re:Does mem usage in tabs matter? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576407)

When every computer now comes with at least 3-4 gb of ram, who cares if a program uses 1.5 gigs?

The user who have lots of programs running?
Currently, I have a TV window, a music player (Fred Astaire), a weather app and a clock, two browser windows, three terminal windows, and an instant messenger window, and a virtual machine.
In the background, a backup is running.
I have 8 GB of RAM, and severely dislike it when my browser assumes that it can use as much as is "available" - it's available because I have aggressive caching policies, so the OS can have free memory for disk caching, not so the browser can be a greedy bloated prick that doesn't care about what else is running.
Firefox' behavior was so bad that I started running it under a cgroup to limit it. That's an option most users won't even have.

Performance improvements (5, Funny)

jaak (1826046) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575763)

Interestingly enough, the Tom's Hardware pages-per-article benchmark shows that Firefox can now handle an article spread over twice as many pages as before!

Re:Performance improvements (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575879)

Interestingly enough, the Tom's Hardware pages-per-article benchmark shows that Firefox can now handle an article spread over twice as many pages as before!

That's one area where Safari, the lowest scoring browser (in these Windows-based tests, natch) wins the day. It effectively has Readability [readability.com] built in, so it's one click to strip ads and consolidate pages.

For the rest, there's, well, Readability.

Not really surprising ... (1)

richg74 (650636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575769)

Firefox 13.01 uses the least amount of RAM with 40 tabs opened, while Chrome uses the highest (surprisingly).

It's really not that surprising. If Firefox has cleaned up its act, then Chrome would tend to be at least a bit higher because of its "process per tab" design. Similarly, IE is likely to show lower usage, because parts of it are probably counted as part of the Windows OS.

Re:Not really surprising ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575795)

Yeah, Firefox has been aiming to replace Chrome on the minimalist frontier for some time now. They have stripped the browser to the barebones, moving everything into extensions, then switched to rapid release breaking those extensions, allowing them to become a very slim browser. Meanwhile, Chrome has developed a lot, and it almost looks like an actual browser now, which has its cost in resources. The two have basically switched places.

Re:Not really surprising ... (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576045)

They have stripped the browser to the barebones, moving everything into extensions

Uh what? I can't even figure out what you're claiming they took out.

40 tabs? (5, Funny)

trancemission (823050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575775)

Who in the name of satan has 40 tabs open?!?

*checks tabs*

Guilty as charged m'lord..........

Firefox is over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575781)

Okay so Firefox is a tad faster, uses a little less memory and I use it everyday thanks guys.

That said it also sucks shit.

It never closes properly. Do not ask me how many times I've closed it to reopen it only to find it saying "only one instance can run at a time".
I'm a developer so I'll be nice, but I see it regularly use up to 2 gigs of ram with just two tabs open.
The only thing Firefox has going for it now are the plugins for developers and they are constantly breaking those, apparently a stable API isn't their forte.

Firefox is on the way out, I wouldn't suggest Firefox to anyone who wasn't a developer at this point and even then it would come with gripes.

Firefox not currently.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575783)

complete crap.

It works as a browser quite well at the moment. The fact that I'm both surprised and happy that a browser allows you to browse must say something. I still have a number of gripes I won't bore you with but browsing, stability and speed are not complete crap.

ff is sold in favor of chrome (0)

Faisal Rehman (2424374) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575791)

The performance is slowest in ff/iceweasel after adding popular addons. Javascript engine is full of bugs. In linux, ff hangs by closing tab. It also forgets thumbnail of websites in new tab page. The fact is mozilla has sold ff to google as chrome and want to kill it.

Re:ff is sold in favor of chrome (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575881)

I just tested your theory in Firefox on Ubuntu 12.04 and neither of what are saying happened. maybe Firefox isn't your problem.

Re:ff is sold in favor of chrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576039)

That's an interesting conspiracy theory but it bears no merit. In fact chromium is based on the same codebase as konqueror which is why the html performance doesn't approach that of Firefox. Chrome isn't open source so nobody really knows what it contains that isn't in chromium but it's commonly accepted that the only difference is the addition of google's botnet code.

cpu usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575793)

until I updated my nvidia driver to the latest backported version, iceweasel 13 was using 50% of my 2.8GHz dual-dore when idle
on a text only page.

Your opinion may differ (5, Interesting)

trifish (826353) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575797)

What I care about in a browser is (in order of importance) security, compatibility, reliability, speed.

I stopped examining RAM usage of any software since the time I bought 16GB of RAM for practically no money.

Even before, when I had "only" 4GB of RAM, I had swap file turned off for years and I haven't seen a single "Insufficient RAM" error.

Re:Your opinion may differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575983)

Same here only difference: I haven't bothered with the 16GB, what's the point? Unless you're running 32bit editing or cad software?

Re:Your opinion may differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576273)

I've also been swapless for years and have 16GB of RAM. That still doesn't mean it's reasonable for firefox to use 2GB of it after browsing youtube for an hour. I've got a large part of my system running out of tmpfs, and I can't have processes running amok with memory.

What the summary did not include (5, Informative)

trifish (826353) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575843)

The summary elegantly avoided the most important metric - Page Load Time. Ok, so let's see how we're doing there:

IE9 - fastest
Safari - 2nd
Chrome - 3rd
Firefox - 4th
Opera - 5th

The page load time tests are the same eight pages in our startup time tests: Google, YouTube, Yahoo!, Amazon, Wikipedia, craigslist, eBay, and Wikipedia.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-7-chrome-20-firefox-13-opera-12,3228-6.html [tomshardware.com]

Re:What the summary did not include (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575977)

Is there anything of value to comment on when the page load times are so close to each other on all the browsers excepting the last? The first 4 finishers range from 880ms to 947ms, which is less than a 10% differential across 8 websites. I doubt you'd notice any difference in your day-to-day real life browsing with respect to page load times.

Re:What the summary did not include (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576391)

noone cares about page loading times.
they depend solely on your internet connection.

You know, I really don't care (3, Interesting)

wwphx (225607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575873)

Mozilla has screwed the pooch for Firefox OS-X users. The single feature that I most liked, aside from the fact that I didn't have to use IE, was the resume session feature. (When I switched to Mac 5ish years ago, I was mainly using FF on my PC and Safari didn't support add-ins at that time AFAIK) Well, that feature doesn't work under Lion for recent versions of Firefox, I've tried down to v10.x.. On my new Air, no recent version of Firefox will keep my sessions. So I abandoned it, found add-ins for Safari that give me AdBlock and session restore, and I'm planning on deleting it. On my older MacBook Pro, also running Lion, I have Firefox 3.6, which though riddled with problems, does session restore correctly.

From what I've been told, a fix is no where in sight, and since a new OS-X is due later this year, I don't expect it to be fixed this year. I neither know nor care what change in the OS upgrade broke session restore, but I consider it a critical feature and I don't know if I'll be using Firefox again on my Macs.

Tabs... (2)

trancemission (823050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575889)

I remember when I first came accross tabbed browsing - it was Opera [which was ahead in many areas at the time - mouse gestures being another :)]

The reason why it was revolutionary was because it allowed you to open links in the background and they would load whilst you was still skimming the page/results. This was the days of dialup / early ADSL and allowed for more efficient browsing. In theory we should now be loading pages at lightning speed [literally] . We don't. RAM is not the problem.

The amount of RAM usage is pretty irrelevant unless you run out, it is more important how it is handled; which depeneds on too many factors to benchmark.

It would be nice if we could benchmark the overall 'browsing' experience, which in this day in age of resource hungry/wasting websites is pointless. [I am looking at you slashdot, I do not need to dynamically load comments, I have enough bandwdith to load all the comments I have filtered by score and my browser is more than capable of showing me them]

If the problem is the amount of RAM you are using when browsing the web, there is a far more fundamental problem.

That word doesn't mean what you think it means (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575915)

memory efficiency, which measures RAM released after tabs are closed

I think it's swell that people look for memory leaks and that newer software sometimes fixes leaks in old versions.

But if you're measuring memory "efficiency" right after closing tabs rather than right before you close them, then you're doing it wrong.

"My hash table is as memory efficient as your sorted array, because after the program completes, it uses the same amount of memory!"

Way to bury the lead... (1)

barlevg (2111272) | more than 2 years ago | (#40575975)

Shouldn't the headline here be "Chrome Wins Tom's Hardware Grand Prix?"

Firefox 11.0 Mac OS X 32-Bit Leaks Memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40575991)

... like a sieve.

If I leave my MacBook Pro - the early 2006 Core Duo 32-Bit model, not one of the later 64-Bit Core 2 Duos - it will eventually run my unit completely out of swap space, so that most of the processes hang. Just killing processes won't get the other ones to resume, which I think is an OS X kernel bug.

I was all set to post a detailed Bugzilla report when I saw this article. I had not realized I was so far behind the current release.

But how the Hell can they go through two major revision levels in just a few months? That sounds just like when I was working for Microport Systems, and I started unexpectedly getting support calls about how we skipped a whole bunch of major releases. Well it turned out they just wanted to be at the same version number as SCO was.

While Microport SystemV/AT was real AT&T Unix for the 286 and 386 PCs, whereas SCO Xenix was developed completely independenly of Unix, Xenix was a far more mature product. Thus its higher version number led our potential users to think Xenix was the better choice.

Anyway, try this on your own Firefox, on any platform. Let me know whether you get a memory leak.

On Mac OS X, you can use /Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor.app to look at the "Real Mem" used by a process. That's the amount of Virtual Memory which the process has actually allocated, not just its total virtual space.

I think the Windows task list that you can bring up with Ctrl-Alt-Delete will show you memory for Windows processes. On *NIX you can use "ps -ef".

Launch Firefox. Think of some event that made headlines all over the worl back in the Nineties. Open a few of the results in tabs. Open the pages they link from in new tabs. Open a few windows as well.

When you have a half dozen or so windows with maybe two or three hundred tabs, minimize all the windows, or on OS X, hide Firefox entirely, then watch its memory consumption.

In my case - again this is with 11.0 so maybe they've fixed in in version 13 - it grows by about a hundred megabytes per hour. I have all manner of crap on my drive, and OS X creates backing store files as needed, so after a while Firefox's memory leak will also fill up my filesystem. Once the filesystem is completely full, no process can allocate new VM anymore, so a bunch of them get suspended. I'm then presented with a window that won't go away until I terminate all the suspended processes.

Just quitting the tasks that I don't really need running, or throwing away files will help.

Michael David Crawford [dulcineatech.com] , who can't be bothered to recover his password.

Re:Firefox 11.0 Mac OS X 32-Bit Leaks Memory (1)

msclrhd (1211086) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576229)

Open a new tab and point it to "about:memory" -- this should tell you what is consuming the memory.

What about Konqueror? (1)

spiderbitendeath (577712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576011)

Just for shits and giggles I opened 40 tabs in Konqueror. Shows memory usage at 356MiB. Whereas my Opera window with 4 tabs open is at 334MiB. Anyone know what sites they test it with? Cause I'd like to see a fair comparison.

sh1t!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576019)

Still a dog on Linux (4, Interesting)

Pausanias (681077) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576065)

I love Firefox, but it's still about 50% faster on Windows 7 than on Linux. Chrome wins clearly on Linux. I agree that on Windows they're comparable.

Firefox needs to re-Pheonix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576219)

I said it in the earlier Thunderbird story and I'll say it again. Firefox needs to get the right balance between speed and memory. Focus on getting all HTML5 implemented and then optimize it all. Then with all the features in place it won't be necessary to have rapid release and people will be able to relax with ESR.

If you look at market share statistics you find that Firefox versions are fragmented like Android is, with too many people using old versions because they find it difficult to update all the time.

Firefox 13 slower than 12 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576247)

I've noticed that Firefox 13 series is some 10% slower for me when compared to version 12.

I even re-downloaded version 12 after updating to 13 to re-check.

Its not related to hardware acceleration either (forced turning off layers in both version).

Anyone else suffering this?

Firefox throwing out the baby with the bath water (4, Interesting)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40576299)

The recent improvements in FF memory usage have some severe drawbacks. FF will throw away images in background tabs, and reload them when you switch to the tab. But the reason I load new pages in background tabs is that I don't want to wait for the page to load and be rendered.

It gets worse when you quit FF, and then reopen the app and have it reload your last session. It will create the tabs, but it won't load the page until you activate the tab. Now this is something I'd be willing to tolerate for tabs that have been open for a few weeks. But not for tabs that I've created recently and/or activate frequently.

I also notice that FF memory usage steadily increases over a couple of days, while the number of tabs remains roughly constant.

In other words, they have reduced the memory footprint not by tackling whatever process is hoarding memory like Scrat stacking acorns in his giant hollow tree, but by throwing away items that use memory but are otherwise static (images).

Misses the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40576517)

Test is missing the point, Firefox sure has a small memory footprint initially, the problem is that it never deallocates memory, the memory remains associated with the process and isn't properly pooled, this leads to severe heap fragmentation over time (so while you'll initially have something like 60-100 MB, this can easily climb to 300-600 MB+ after a couple of hours), and it will never got down significantly, in fact the more deallocs firefox does, the more fragmented the heap becomes.

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