Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

Summary: Firefox 5 might just be out of the gate, but Mozilla is working hard on improvements for Firefox 7. One of those improvements is the way that Firefox handles memory usage.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Firefox 5 might just be out of the gate, but Mozilla is working hard on improvements for Firefox 7. One of those improvements is the way that Firefox handles memory usage.

Firefox developer Nicholas Nethercote outlines some of the changes. The first is per-compartment reporters, which should help power users and ordinary users see what's going on:

One nice thing about this feature is that it gives technically-oriented users a way to tell which web sites are causing high memory usage. This may help with perception, too; people might think "geez, Facebook is using a lot of memory" instead of "geez, Firefox is using a lot of memory".

Along with per-compartment reporters comes dramatic improvements to the JavaScript heap fragmentation:

... in short, the size of the heap was over 5x smaller (21MB vs. 108MB) after closing a number of tabs and forcing garbage collection. Even if you don't force garbage collection, it still helps greatly, because garbage collection happens periodically anyway, and longer browsing sessions will benefit more than shorter sessions.

This change will help everyday browsing a lot. It will also help with the perception of Firefox's memory usage - once you learn about about:memory, an obvious thing to try is to browse for a while, close all tabs, and see what the memory usage looks like.

[poll id="648"]

I come across a lot of people complaining about how Firefox uses memory, so this will come as welcome news to them.

What's interesting here is the two-fold approach that Mozilla is taking. It's been a long-standing complaint leveled against Firefox that the browser uses too much memory and that it doesn't release memory efficiently when tabs are closed. Here Mozilla are not only working hard to shrink the amount of memory Firefox uses, but also giving users the tools to see how much memory the browser is using, along with the all-important 'why' it is using that memory.

What else should Mozilla be working on for Firefox 7?

Topic: Browser

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66 comments
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  • I use Safari and only Safari

    I'm tired of all these "me-too" browsers that can't do anything but copy Safari.
    woulddie4apple
    • Troll

      @woulddie4apple
      DDERSSS
      • Troll

        @DeRSSS
        woulddie4apple
      • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

        @DeRSSS good info ok! Thnx a lot for your piece, i found a little distinct angle at <a href="http://edproblemsolver.com">http://edproblemsolver.com</a>
        Armel
        davidhouwid
    • Safari, the upstart

      @woulddie4apple, how could you be tired of "me-too" browsers if all you use is Safari? And about the "copy Safari" myth, Firefox launched in 2003. Its predecessor, Netscape released in 1994. Or maybe it is IE that you are in a snit over. IE was birthed in 1995. Whereas, the MS version of Safari didn't show up until 2007. And I suppose your granddaddy learned everything he ever knew from you?
      wls
      • Big difference

        @wls <br>Apple released the first USABLE browser. Before Safari, no one used browsers because they were so complex. It took Apple to analyze the market and build the first truly capable, easy to use browser. Apple didn't invent the browser but they popularized it.
        woulddie4apple
      • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

        @Big difference

        How wrong you are. If that was true than Safari would have been THE most popular browser ever. When it is less than 5% I think and always has been. Nothing was ever introduced in Safari that was revolutionary.
        Djblois
    • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

      @woulddie4apple Safari IS A COPY OF Konqueror, the KDE-based browser. As a matter of fact, it's MADE FROM it. YOU, sir, are a TROLL.
      thombone
      • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

        @thombone You must be new here. Of course he's a troll. Sadly, the quality of his trolling has been going down rapidly. I think it's time for a summer vacation. There's a fine line between humorous and childish.
        Badge3832
      • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

        @thombone

        Please don't feed the Trolls.
        CitizenW
    • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

      @woulddie4apple huh. I never used that. mosaic then netscape then mozilla firefox. What's this safari thing?
      opcom
    • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

      @woulddie4apple
      Real TIRED DUDE! Stick to the subject please?
      ncironman
  • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

    I am pretty sure that objective comparisons of memory usage between FF, Chrome and IE indicate that they are all roughly on par. That doesn't mean FF isn't memory hungry, it just means that all state of the art browsers are.
    x I'm tc
    • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

      @jdakula

      I'd disagree with you, I use FF, IE and a Chrome variant called Iron regularly and although overall I prefer FF it slows down noticeably more than the others during long browsing sessions.

      The counter arguement of course is that I should probably have something more worthwhile to do than browse the interwebz all day... :P
      OffsideInVancouver
    • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

      @jdakula Agreed! I only experience high memory in FF when I have a lot of tabs open (i.e. always ;-) I believe people didn't often hit memory usage in IE and Chrome as high as in Firefox simply because they're were so unusable with more than half a dozen tabs that people simply refrain from it.
      It's been some months since I last used Chrome so I can't say about it, but IE9, which finally is usable with multiple tabs, is a sucker for memory.
      extraneu
  • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

    That's not enough. If they want Chrome users to switch to Firefox, give us a sandbox. Both IE and Chrome have built-in sandbox and Firefox is the only browser (out of top 3 browsers) w/o sandbox. Heck, even IE 9 has a better download manager. Mozilla, it's time to innovate, if you keep sleeping then you guys will meet the fate of Netscape
    shellcodes_coder
    • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

      @shellcodes_coder
      Tried tab grouping? Thats innovative! WebGL? Audio authoring API?
      przemoli
      • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

        @shellcodes_coder

        I agree compeltely, sandboxing would be nice, and a better download manager (Download statusbar (an addon) is nice, why not make it default?). Does shaving a couple of extra meg off the memory usage really matter these days?

        @przemoli

        Didn't Opera have tab grouping before Firefox? I prefer Firefox, but I'm not sure that was a Firefox idea.
        mazz0@...
    • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

      @shellcodes_coder
      It's called "Add On's". Get "Sandboxie". Also recommend "TooManyTabs". Drops the open tabs from memory & into an easily retrieve menu drop down to recover them.
      ncironman
      • RE: Memory improvements coming to Firefox 7

        @NCIronMan I think so, if Firefox user need sandbox, just use Kaspersky, Avast(free) sandbox, or better, use Sandboxie xD~~
        Cattleya.vns