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isn't quite ashamed enough to present

jr conlin's ink stained banana

:: Apples To Foxes

Righto. So, let’s look at memory footprints, shall we?

With the pending Firefox 4 release (yay!) a few folks have posting things like the following:

i was kind of curious about that myself. So i decided to do a bit of a test. My personal walk-around box is a Dual Core 1.3GHz Acer Aspire with 3GB of memory running Win7-64bit. i’ll pick that OS since it’s the most popular platform (even though i tend to run Ubuntu as my real work space). i’ve got PsTools installed so i can do snapshots of running processes. Mind you, “Memory usage” (particularly on Windows) is not really an easy term to identify since applications can reserve more memory than what is available (effectively, overbooking memory) and most tools will report that number rather than the actual memory in use (the Working Set, which is closer to the real amount of memory in use).

So, with that in mind, lets look at a few things.
i brought up a clean version of Firefox 4 (no addons), sync’d it to my work desktop and pulled over 18 tabs. They are a mix of static pages, a pinned Twitter, an Etherpad editing a 40K doc and a few other things (no flash because i tend not to use that while working or coding, but feel free to add one if you want to do this at home)

from the command window, i ran:

C:\Program Files (x86)>plist -m firefox
pslist v1.29 – Sysinternals PsList
Copyright (C) 2000-2009 Mark Russinovich
Sysinternals

Process memory detail for VIR:

Name Pid VM WS Priv Priv Pk Faults NonP Page
firefox 7576 445036 236912 219460 238040 468908 137 342

Since values are returned in KB, Firefox has reserved about 445MB of Virtual Memory with a Working Set of around 236MB. That’s our baseline.

Now to bring up those same tabs in Google’s Chrome.
and we get the following:

C:\Program Files (x86)>pslist -m chrome

pslist v1.29 – Sysinternals PsList
Copyright (C) 2000-2009 Mark Russinovich
Sysinternals

Process memory detail for VIR:

Name Pid VM WS Priv Priv Pk Faults NonP Page
chrome 3876 230404 60364 42332 57428 505725 46 306
chrome 5980 156528 39764 29788 41332 251894 23 164
chrome 7272 100012 15116 8208 11464 6225 12 164
chrome 9640 134756 17008 9568 14272 11077 14 164
chrome 7284 142864 27396 17984 23796 34864 19 164
chrome 1840 136804 20168 12612 16856 15592 14 164
chrome 10456 138392 22784 14480 18484 10414 15 164
chrome 816 139300 22552 14024 18188 12245 18 164
chrome 8936 136488 20812 12300 18000 9796 15 164
chrome 10768 137432 17860 10524 14720 9176 15 164
chrome 11172 102060 16144 8980 13608 7015 12 164
chrome 10740 136576 20200 11752 17204 9553 15 164
chrome 10824 147120 32488 20236 27848 30158 21 170
chrome 10584 161836 29940 25132 25248 7876 22 232
chrome 11380 98988 13996 7152 10764 6647 12 164
chrome 7216 139412 23296 14648 20892 13321 18 164
chrome 4724 113004 26700 21408 25116 9617 12 164
chrome 6976 98988 14136 7256 10928 6651 12 164
chrome 2684 133988 17420 10008 13828 8320 14 164
chrome 10256 110572 23372 18060 21940 8861 12 164

Huh, why so many? Well, the good folks at Google sandbox each page into its own process so that when it crashes, it usually doesn’t take out the other browsers. Because of that, each process then requests and uses more overall memory. In this case, the total numbers are 2,696MB of Reserved Memory (VM) with a working set of about 482MB. That’s a lot more memory, but again, there is a lot going into these numbers that can set them higher.

So what about the others?

Well Safari 5.0.3 does a bit better with the process generation (only building two) and memory footprint:

C:\Program Files (x86)>pslist -m safari

pslist v1.29 – Sysinternals PsList
Copyright (C) 2000-2009 Mark Russinovich
Sysinternals

Process memory detail for VIR:

Name Pid VM WS Priv Priv Pk Faults NonP Page
Safari 5228 491876 227472 235152 242528 992772 225 438
Safari 8204 251544 55068 38864 73768 52337 61 356

with a total of 743MBVirtual, and 283MB Working Set. Better than Chrome, but still bigger than Firefox (but just barely).

Opera 11 shows up at:

C:\Program Files (x86)>pslist -m opera

pslist v1.29 – Sysinternals PsList
Copyright (C) 2000-2009 Mark Russinovich
Sysinternals

Process memory detail for VIR:

Name Pid VM WS Priv Priv Pk Faults NonP Page
opera 4728 345856 218068 215104 215908 258746 47 225

Which gives it the smallest footprint so far, shaving 18MB less than Firefox

IE9(rc) shows up at:

C:\Program Files (x86)>PsList.exe -m iexplore

pslist v1.29 – Sysinternals PsList
Copyright (C) 2000-2009 Mark Russinovich
Sysinternals

Process memory detail for VIR:

Name Pid VM WS Priv Priv Pk Faults NonP Page
iexplore 4928 183092 35676 14888 16300 12907 45 329
iexplore 5060 269624 82320 44424 51464 31208 56 385
iexplore 3900 321020 90184 55620 60860 35165 70 416
iexplore 2664 213272 41056 22412 25152 12574 38 342
iexplore 5104 235628 54836 25616 70920 28599 51 372
iexplore 5040 240560 71040 48260 54136 63598 98 365
iexplore 3412 231716 52024 31668 51920 19874 60 338
iexplore 3280 243336 54364 32552 35372 16715 47 369
iexplore 1336 204544 39144 21392 21784 10383 38 341

Which sums up to VM of 2,143MB and a WS of 503MB (Well, after a reboot since the install required it.)

So, for the benefit of them what like charts, here’s the memory footprint breakdown:

Browser Virtual Memory Working Size
Opera 11.01 346MB 218MB
Firefox 4.0b12 445MB 236MB
Safari 5.0.3 743MB 283MB
Chrome 9.0.597.107 2,696MB 482MB
IE 9.0.8(64) 2,143MB 503MB

Mind you, these are all top-notch browsers, and frankly you should be paying attention to the second column (working size) more anyway. Even with all those browsers and associated tabs open, there was memory available and i didn’t notice any huge lags. That’s again due to the somewhat interesting approach Windows and other modern OS’s takes to memory management.

Plus, if you’re running a machine that has just 1GB (or less), there’s a fix for that.

That said, i think Firefox 4 does a right fine job of memory management compared to the competition. i’d also love for a few folks to do similar tests on their systems to see how it performs. Hopefully, this will help.

(Also, Firefox and Chrome made this REALLY EASY by letting me drag text into the URL field rather than copy/pasting it in. Really wish the other browsers would let me do that.)

Blogs of note
personal Christopher Conlin USMC memoirs of hydrogen guy rhapsodic.org Henriette's Herbal Blog
geek ultramookie

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