Firefox memory footprint

Firefox is releasing one new version after the other. And each new version, Mozilla claims to have enhanced memory usage to reduce the amount of resource required to load each page. Is that a valid claim?

As a curious computer engineer, I decided to install several legacy Firefox versions and compare the amount of memory required to load two greedy pages: http://www.gmail.com and http://www.spiegel.de.

Here are the results.

One observes that at Firefox 3.6, reading emails from gmail suddenly doubled memory usage. And from Firefox 4.0 on, it requires the triple of memory. I suspect that gmail also loads more content on newer versions since Firefox enhanced javascript support.

But a similar behavior also happened for http://www.spiegel.de news journal, although not as intense as for gmail: memory has grown nearly 3 times!

Although the results are no scientific measures, I believe that they show the greedy memory consumption tendencies from Firefox, and that probably Mozilla was not really successful to “enhance memory usage”.

One Response to Firefox memory footprint

  1. Very interesting comparison! How was Firefox’ memory measured? And which operating system? If it’s Linux, was it RSS or VSS? With swap partitions disabled (swapped out pages are not counted in RSS usage)?

    I’m not saying that your results are off, just that it’s useful to know the procedure.

    My father uses a very old box with 512 MB of RAM, and when he upgraded to Firefox 4 the memory usage increase was clearly noticeable. To the point of rendering the browser unusable. I recommended him to switch to Chromium, and he hasn’t switched back to Firefox to this day (why would he anyway? :-) ).

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