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Firefox 3 May Be More Memory Efficient Than Either IE or Opera 370

Edy52285 writes "Ars Technica has an article showing benchmarks pitting Firefox 3 Beta 4 against other browsers. Contenders include IE7, Firefox 2, Opera 9.5 Beta, and Safari 3.0.4 Beta. The piece includes a graph depicting FF3's memory usage well below that of the other browsers. The in-testing browser even trumps Opera, which has long been regarded as the fastest browser around."
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Firefox 3 May Be More Memory Efficient Than Either IE or Opera

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  • Re:Graph shape (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:33AM (#22781882) Journal
    Not a very realistic test, in that case, since most people tend to recycle browser windows. Adding in proper cleanup routines when the window is closed doesn't address this. That said, it's great that Gecko is trimming some of the fat. Hopefully it will start to be a competitor to WebKit in the mobile space soon.
  • by eebra82 ( 907996 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:38AM (#22781926) Homepage

    That graph is based on 30 open windows at a time, not 'basic web browsing'.
    Which is exactly the point of why a memory-hogging application is bad. I don't think anyone is experiencing problems with what you call basic web browsing, but we all have moments when we suddenly end up with 10+ windows. That's when it matters the most, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:45AM (#22781986)

    It's one thing to know that IE7 is a resource hog, but another thing entirely to view the graph in the article and be confronted with hard evidence of just how abysmal it is.

    I'm going to print out that graph and put it on my wall. Then, when my users come to me and ask why our enterprise isn't rolling out IE7 on our systems, I can just point to it.
    As a web developer, I beg you, please install IE7 anyway. It's better standards support (far from being as good as gecko/webkit/khtml/opera, but still a massive improvement over IE6), support for alpha transparency, etc, makes things so much easier for us.
  • by CaptnMArk ( 9003 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:46AM (#22782000)
    Is the cause of the jagged line in the graph?

    Such large-ish spikes might not be good for the user experience.

    It would be interesting to have CPU usage + working set overlaid with this graph.

    Firefox 2.0 and Opera graph looks much smoother.
  • Re:A Blessing! (Score:-1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:51AM (#22782050)
    Sadly, "needed features" are "everything that MS Office has". I'm not blaming OO developers, but stupid management.
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:51AM (#22782058)
    I don't doubt it...after all, it's already happened here []. ^_^
  • Re:Graph shape (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:53AM (#22782066)
    That makes me skeptical about the value of the benchmark, because Firefox 2 (in my experience, and run on half a dozen different machines) is terrible in that case. It's not a browser you can leave open for a week and keep using.

    A lot of people have said 3 is much better about that, which I believe.
  • Re:FF won't win (Score:5, Interesting)

    by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @09:19AM (#22782328)
    And they are running the test in Windows? Who knows whether there's not an undocumented feature of IE which is telling it's O$ to swap *all* FF's RAM into disk? Or even freeing FF's memory? The predator always wins.

    MS has done something like this in the past and got caught. []
  • Re:A Blessing! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @09:28AM (#22782404) Homepage Journal
    I still find it scary that 1ghz and 512mb is considered low end for an office PC.
  • by xx01dk ( 191137 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @09:29AM (#22782412)
    So far with the beta. It may be purely subjective, but when I click the task bar icon, FF3 opens _instantly_ or near enough as I can tell. And I've been using FF2 since it's release.

    I also left a couple of browser windows open all night last night and was able to navigate pretty well this morning; if I'd done that with FF2 it would have been like viewing the web over dial-up again.

    I think what impressed me the most was the hassle-free install. I uninstalled FF2, thinking I was ready to start with a fresh browser, and to my complete surprise, FF3 installed with nearly the exact same settings as I had been using in FF2. With the exception of that pesky "home" button that I can't seem to get rid of (What, no right-click > delete option?) everything is exactly the same. I'm still trying to get used to the address bar that tries to predict what site you're looking for as well; I suspect that with some tweaking I'll be able to dial it in pretty well.

  • by gravis777 ( 123605 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:03AM (#22782728)
    ,I am not exactly sure what this graph is showing. I have NEVER had IE7 take up 500 meg of Ram. Shoot, with multiple windows and videos open, I have never had it top 100. I am running it now in Vista, and it is using under 25 meg of ram. Firefox 2.0.12 is using 22 meg of Ram. Yeah, Firefox is using less, but I am seeing no where near the performance difference that they are showing on the graph. Maybe TFA might share some insight.

    During intensive browsing with approximately 50 tabs, I have found that Firefox 3 generally consumes less than half of the memory used by Firefox
    I have never had 50 tabs open at once. I think my limit has been around 20, but I usually do not average more than 5. 50, for real? Does not sound like a real world test to me.

    The memory benchmark, which uses the Talos framework and was conducted on Windows Vista, replicates real-world usage patterns by automatically cycling pages through browser windows and then closing them. Firefox 3 used less memory than Firefox 2, Internet Explorer, and Opera, and it also freed more memory than the other browsers when pages were closed. Safari 3 and Internet Explorer 8 could not be benchmarked because they crashed during the test.
    Once again, I have NEVER had IE7 use as much ram as they are claiming under Vista. I have to question the "replicates real-world usage patterns" thing.
  • by snoyberg ( 787126 ) <> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:44AM (#22783122) Homepage
    No, I think he was saying that it's better than IE6. The original question (from his users) was why not to migrate from IE6 to IE7. And I think, feature-wise, IE7 *does* beat IE6.
  • That chart is odd... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:01AM (#22783334) Homepage Journal
    Call it anecdotal evidence, but that chart doesn't represent my real world experience using IE7 and FF2. Both seem to top out at 200megs even with a bunch of tabs open and pandora streaming away. The big difference though, is that any time I minimize IE7, it's memory footprint drops to a fraction of that. Where as FF2, even when minimized, still sucks up all the memory it uses while active.

    In any case, I've never had a 500 meg IE7 session.

  • by NinjaTariq ( 1034260 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:28AM (#22783686)
    Maybe my experience of Firefox 2 is atypical, but I don't think its numbers are correct. In my experience of using IE7, Firefox 2 and Firefox 3. Firefox 2 uses MORE memory than IE7 at times, while Firefox 3 uses between a quarter and a third of the memory of Firefox 2.

    I have now switched exclusively to Firefox 3 on my windows machine, while using 2 on my linux machine. Firefox 3 IMO is the best browser for resources.

    That said however, I don't find it particularly fast, its slower than I remember Firefox 1 (I don't have it to compare, but from memory it was fast), but a little faster than Firefox 2.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:45AM (#22783880)
    No, it was not insightful, just a joke. If you read the referenced links in the summary you'd know now that the point where FF2 and FF3 dropped off was where all pages were closed. As you can see, Opera and IE just kept the memory they had already consumed.
  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @01:44PM (#22785370)
    To me, bookmarks are mostly for reference sites. For stuff I want to keep permanently, not stories I want to read once. Yet often I encounter a link with a story or movie I want to check out at a more appropriate time, so I leave it open in a tab.

    Ofcourse it's also possible, when fixing an issue, that I've got a tab with a list of all outstanding issues, one tab for each issue, one tab with the production version of the site, one tab with the test version, one tab with the dev version, and usually a couple more tabs with all sorts of debugging information.

    As to why I keep everything on all the time, I usually have a lot open, and when I want to turn the PC off, I need to close a lot of programs, all of which I have to start again when I turn the PC on again. Since I'm lazy, I usually just leave it on. Or use hibernate. Which is a pain, because Windows' hibernate suffers from some odd bug that makes it slower each time it recovers from hibernation.

    And since I always leave everything on, I also have stuff open that I haven't used in days, so my desktop gets a bit cluttered. I'm not saying this is an efficient way to work. It just happens to be the way I work.
  • Re:Crash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @03:36PM (#22786904) Homepage Journal
    Not joking at all. I've seen that "Recently Closed Tabs" entry in the History menu, but it's always greyed out and unusable. I just tested it by opening a new tab, selecting it to verify that it was a real tab, and closing it. The "Recently Closed Tabs" menu entry is still greyed out, although I just closed a tab. I've also had a number of other tabs open during the day, and closed them, and that "Recently Closed Tabs" thingy is always greyed out when I check it.

    So how does one enable it?

    (This is on a Mac Powerbook with OSX 10.4.11, if that matters. I've also seen that menu item with FF on my linux box and my wife's NT and Vista systems, and it was also greyed out there. So I'm baffled. What good is it if it can't be used? ;-)
  • by gwern ( 1017754 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @04:37PM (#22787672) Homepage
    FF 3's lesser memory usage isn't the result of exercises in space/time tradeoffs (with a few exceptions where the caching was out of hand); it's better and more efficient code. (Reading the release notes and developer blogs is quite interesting.) Sometimes, a mountain is just a mountain, and wasted memory is just wasted memory. 'Jezz Slashdot - I expected more from the worlds largest concentration of geek power.' With geeks such as these...

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"