Linked by David Adams on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 16:50 UTC, submitted by _xmv
Mozilla & Gecko clones Mozilla Firefox has been listening to recent memory complains, and as a side effect tested the browser's scalability to the extreme with memshrink's improvements. The results are shocking: For 150 tabs open using the test script, Firefox nightly takes 6 min 14 on the test system, uses 2GB and stays responsive. For the same test, Chrome takes 28 min 55 and is unusable during loading. An optimized version of the script has been made for Chrome as an attempt to work-around Chrome's limitations and got an improved loading time of 27 min 58, while using 5GB of memory.
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RE[2]: Comment by Praxis
by Erunno on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 18:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Praxis"
Member since:

And that's not even the end of it. Under the leadership of Nicholas Nethercode Mozilla is making a strong push towards reducing Firefox' memory usage as much as possible without sacrificing performance. Further memory reductions are already in the pipeline for post-FF7 releases. The best place to follow the effort is by reading Nethercote's weekly MemShrink progress reports on his blog:

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RE[3]: Comment by Praxis
by WereCatf on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 19:17 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Praxis"
WereCatf Member since:

The strange thing is that...well, people have been telling Mozilla devs for YEARS that Firefox is eating up way too much memory, and they've just denied the whole thing all this time. So, are they now admitting that they've been in denial, or are they claiming that Firefox has just now very recently started doing that?

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RE[4]: Comment by Praxis
by -oblio- on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 19:20 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Praxis"
-oblio- Member since:

As with everything, performance requires compromises.

A simple example: do you keep cached images uncompressed in memory so that they you can load they very fast, or do you keep them compressed?
On a system with less memory, you probably want them compressed (maybe completely discarded and you reload them when needed). On a system with lots of RAM you probably want them uncompressed, so that the loading time is virtually 0.

Yea, staying on the sidelines makes it easy to comment... Hindsight is also 20/20...

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RE[4]: Comment by Praxis
by Erunno on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 19:46 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Praxis"
Erunno Member since:

I'm the last person to claim that Firefox never had problems with its memory usage having been afflicted by them for years myself (on OS X at least). I'm not blaming Firefox alone for that since various tests showed that at least a vanilla 3.6 has superior memory usage characteristics so Mozilla's claim that its partly caused by extensions is certainly not completely unfounded. But I do blame Mozilla that they've been pimping their extensions ecosystem as one of Firefox' major selling point for years without sufficiently educating the user about their potential hazards (just check the in-browser extension manager. Warnings: none). At the same time they offered no easy to use tools for debugging and also didn't want to take responsibility for extensions wrecking havoc. That's a classic case of trying to eat the cake and keep it.

But I'm also having trouble with blanket statements such as that Firefox has been using too much memory for years. "For years" encompasses vastly different versions of Firefox with completely new or rewritten subsystems and features. Each of these can be a source of regressions and improvements. Mozilla has also been never in denial that Firefox 4 regressed in memory usage (partly because of the new but not fully optimized JIT compiler) but decided to release it nonetheless due already having amassed a delay of several months.

I'm glad that they are making such a public push to improve their reputation here. They still have a sizable market share despite having come under heavy pressure from Chrome and they still employ talented developers and they are the only organization fighting for an accessible Internet. I hope that the latest efforts are not a case of too litte, too late. I'd certainly miss the old fox. :-P

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