Musings on Browser Memory Use

Discussion in 'General Software' started by Sabrewulf165, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. Sabrewulf165

    Sabrewulf165 2[H]4U

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    While I generally prefer Firefox, I've accepted it as axiomatic for some time now that Chrome is generally "better" when it comes to memory use. Imagine my surprise when one boring day at work, I did a google search for "web page that takes up a lot of memory" and then opened the first 10, 20, 30, 40, and finally 50 links in each installed browser on my machine only to find that Chrome (by it's own measure) was using 3x the RAM of Firefox. Poor IE was fighting a stacked deck here as both Chrome and FF were using ABP and Ghostery, but "them's the breaks".

    [​IMG]

    Flipping through all of the tabs would temporarily raise FF to about 650 MB, but it would soon after drop back down into the mid-400s. Flipping through all the tabs in Chrome yielded a much smaller but still noticeable increase which also fell back down after a few moments. IE, without any further interaction, began to climb steadily until eventually topping out at about 3.3 GB after an hour or so. Somewhere around the same mark, Chrome suddenly dropped from ~1.2 GB down to about 900 MB. Flipping through the tabs again did not re-raise this figure. I'm at a loss to explain this. Firefox remained very steady in the mid-400 MB range for the duration of the test except when flipping through the tabs as previously mentioned.

    No point to this post, really. Just an interesting observation that I felt like sharing.
     
  2. mystykmax

    mystykmax Limp Gawd

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    it's interesting to me as well. Not to start a browser war but I've been switching between chrome and firefox for a few months now and FF always seems "sticky" to me compared to Chrome. FF will hang when I switch a tab and show as "not responding" far more often than Chrome. Could it be that FF's RAM savings impact performance in certain situations?
     
  3. bpm~

    bpm~ n00b

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    I've encountered these issues at work in the past year as well. Started with Firefox, and after that started eating up 1gb+ I switched to Chrome. I noticed that didn't do much better (worse, in some cases). Some people say vanilla firefox is ok, but poorly coded add-ons cause the memory usage to soar.

    Memory is so cheap and plentiful now; I stopped paying attention to it.
     
  4. bigdogchris

    bigdogchris [H]ard as it Gets

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    Well I recently discovered the Hardware Acceleration feature of Firefox can cause problems like the sticky feeling.

    Also, FF 13 is due out in June and has a second round of memory shrink improvements which some are saying make the browser 2.5x more memory efficient than Chrome.
     
  5. athlon1.2

    athlon1.2 [H]ardness Supreme

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    All I know about IE is when we write a program using IE Forms that it consumes memory until 100% and then the app crashes.
     
  6. zero2dash

    zero2dash [H]ardness Supreme

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    Fx memory use has gotten a lot better over the last few versions and it seems like they've finally fixed the memory [strike=]leak[/s] feature. :)

    I think the reason Chrome eats up so much is because of every Chrome tab being its own separate process, plus it also has extra processes for the extensions and sometimes it seems like 1 extension can get doubled on ram use just because 2 tabs are open and it uses the extension in both tabs so it counts both against the cap. Never really understood that one myself. :confused:

    I was a staunch Fx user for years. I tried Chrome a few times but never really liked it much, so I'd go back to Fx. The rapid release schedule at Mozilla has pissed me off enough to put more time towards Chrome and now I don't think I could go back to Fx if I tried. Chrome still feels snappier to me, and the add-ons are pretty nice....any time I try to go back to Fx now I feel like I'm using an old browser. :eek:
     
  7. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

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    If you look at Task Manager you see that Chrome.exe process instances pollute the list even with just 2-3 tabs open. Each process duplicates a lot of the data in the other processes, causing a much higher memory usage. Compare it with for example SLI with GPUs or multi-core processors where each instance (core) needs to have its own local copy of shared data. Chrome kinda works like that.

    Chrome should and will use more memory than a browser which doesn't use this process-per-tab design.

    Using Chrome feels like using a hobby project to me. I only use it for G+ so that I can have it not interfere with my work browser (Firefox). When I tried to use Chrome for a bit of serious work I quickly ran into a lot of limitations, such as that Chrome's tab bar will not scroll like on Firefox so that you can not open more tabs than physically fit on your screen. As I regularly have 50+ tabs open, this is unacceptable.

    The configuration options with Chrome are also very limited, it's less stable (crashes more often than Firefox though I abuse the latter a lot more and keep running 24/7). and generally has piles of usability issues, such as again with the lack of a title bar which make it impossible for me to see what the title of a page is without jumping through some hoops.

    I'm actually developing my own browser based on Webkit (www.mayaposch.com/wildfox.php) and testing by others on Windows and Linux has shown that it is soundly beating Chrome in general responsiveness and efficiency, including HTML 5 video (Phonon backend using DirectShow/GStreamer).

    I have worked with the Firefox code (Fx 4-6.x) and am most decidedly not impressed by it. Which makes it even more amazing to me that Chrome is apparently worse than a duct-taped together browser like Firefox. Maybe I should look at the Chromium code to see what's up there :)
     
  8. Impulse

    Impulse [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yeah, this is not the first time I've seen someone point out that with lots of tabs/instances Chrome ends up using much more memory than FF... It's inherent to the way Chrome splits processes (as noted above). I've always used FF for most of my heavy browsing, keeping Chrome open on the side just for GCal or Gmail, the application view mode always seemed well suited for that...

    I'm sure when I pick up a phone w/ICS I'll be tempted to use Chrome more heavily tho... Chrome for Android looks pretty slick, delivering many of the features FF for Android first touted (retrieving desktop sessions, bookmark sync, etc.). I keep meaning to try FF for Android but all I hear about it are performance complaints and how it doesn't support Flash. I guess I should give it an honest shot tho.
     
  9. wonderfield

    wonderfield [H]ardness Supreme

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    Chrome's increased memory usage should decrease with Windows 8's memory pooling, I would suspect.
     
  10. XOR != OR

    XOR != OR [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Given I picked up 8 gigs of memory for 150 ( I think. Not more than 200 ), I'm not going to sweat my browser chewing up 1gig while I'm actively using it. When it comes to browsers, I'm more interested in the interface reacting quickly to my clicks. If I want to scroll down, I don't like the delay introduced because I did something it wasn't expecting; I want it to respond now. IE is horrible about UI lagginess, firefox less so, but Chrome still spanks them both.

    As far as stability...can't say I've had any issues. I'll have upwards of 30 tabs open at any given time, 5 or so development tabs. Browser will stay open for weeks at a time; almost never have a crashing issue. The last crash I had was flash, and well..ya. Flash.
     
  11. Impulse

    Impulse [H]ardForum Junkie

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    8GB for $150?? :eek: That sounds off... Were you buying PC3200 DDR? :p
     
  12. XOR != OR

    XOR != OR [H]ardForum Junkie

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    PC2 8500, and I just checked my newegg history and I got it for 185 almost 2 years ago.
     
  13. Impulse

    Impulse [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Ohh, heh, I thought you had picked it up recently... Hence my shock. Memory prices have plummeted. Don't sweat it, I paid more than that for like 2GB of DDR1 at one point. :p
     
  14. Ranguvar

    Ranguvar Limp Gawd

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    After fretting about page file writes coming from nowhere and chugging my PC when I had 6GiB of DDR2 (and that's not even very little!)...
    16GiB DDR3 feels soo good. I don't even have to care. Use it all, Firefox, use it all.

    But some perhaps helpful device, when I did have RAM issues, Memory Fox (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/memory-fox/) was absolutely earth-shattering in its effectiveness.
     
  15. Silverpike

    Silverpike n00b

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    Since it may interest other people here, I use Palemoon:
    http://www.palemoon.org/

    It's a heavily optimized build of whatever the latest FF version is. I noticed a speed improvement and a memory improvement, especially with anything Javascript.
     
  16. westrock2000

    westrock2000 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I can't even find the home button on chrome :(
     
  17. zero2dash

    zero2dash [H]ardness Supreme

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    It's hidden/unchecked by default.
    Settings - Basics > Toolbar (3rd set down) "Show Home button"