Browser wars – memory view

30 06 2008

Evidence is coming in in the browser memory wars: Winner – Firefox 3.

There are several points of comparison between browser’s memory consumption. First, total memory used. The clear winner here is Firefox 3, with Safari (though it is a Mac product, there is a Windows version) as a strong looser. That’s “strong” as in “way off by itself”.

Second, how memory is used. And this leads to the reason Firefox 3 is such a clear winner and Safari is so poor. In our C++ class, indeed, discussed in the Java class – and those are “class” as in “education, school, that room you sit in with others to be awed by the teacher” – is memory usage and cleaning up after yourself. Java does that automatically while C++ requires some work on the programmer’s part to keep the stack purged of no-longer needed memory locations. It seems that those bright people at Firefox, after having gotten dinged so badly with Firefox 2, listened to that particular part of the lecture while for the Safari folks the lecture was given on the Monday after the kegger party thrown to celebrate the school’s winning the opening game against their bitterest rival. In other words, Firefox opens with an initial amount of memory and then usage graphing goes flat, while Safari just keeps opening more and more memory with each site or page opened. Folks, if I ain’t viewing the page there is really no reason to keep that page’s memory hanging around as if it is still in use!

For more details, and links to the original article, check out this Computerworld article.




One response

24 05 2009

You are making a big mistake on how to measure the used memory of your processes. You read the MemUsage column but your are missing the virtual memory of each process, so it’s only half the truth, in fact even less.

On each OS, if a process memory (measured as MemUsage) reaches a defined size, a part of the memory is mapped into the virtual address space (VirtualMem). So the actual memory used will NOT increase, ‘only’ the virtual memory space increases constantly. Note that also the virtual memory is allocated by the process and it cannot be used by other processes, nor by the system! Virtual memory still is part of the appropriate process.
For MS IE that does not apply as memory is not swapped there.

So if you want know the real amount of used memory, then you have to ADD the values of MemUsage and VirtualMem for each process. To see the virtual memory you also need to display that column in your taskmanager as it is not shown per default. You will see a big surprise.

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