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Mozilla developers: More memory usage is better.

post #1 of 14
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Its a simple concept. I've disliked Firefox since version 4 because it was simply too slow. I'm not talking about page rendering, which is basically the same across all browsers by now. I'm talking about the interface. Closing multiple tiles, pressing the back button, even switching through tabs resulted in more lag and stuttering than you'd expect from a netbook running Vista.

I finally figured out the reason though, after comparing Firefox's performance on my SSD equipped netbook: Firefox is constantly accessing the hard drive!


Why? Its to save memory. Firefox will cache everything on disk, from your page history to inactive tabs. That means in order to switch to another tab the browser needs to read from the hard drive.


Now folks, reading from the hard drive is bad. Anyone who is at all familiar with computer architecture will tell you that its several orders of magnitude slower than accessing data from cache or RAM, and should be avoided at all costs.


Normally such aggressive caching is only conducted in the case of an emergency, like when you run out of physical memory.


But Mozilla is fighting a war here, and aside from those pointless browser benchmarks the most talked about stat is memory usage. Everyone wants to have lower memory usage.



Now, I'm not saying that low memory use is a bad thing. Its just not something you should shoot for in a world where 8GB of high performance DDR3 can be had for under $40. Instead, low memory usage is a direct result of efficient memory usage, which is a goal for any application.


Unable to cope with Chrome's lighter memory footprint the Mozilla developers simply decided to tuck their memory away on the hard drive, like a child who just throws all of his toys under the bed when his parents tell him to clean his room.


This is whats known as cutting your nose off to spite your face. Mozilla needs to abandon this childish memory hiding and just accept the fact that their browser is a little beefier, because the performance gains are totally worth it.

If you disable disk caching entirely by setting browser.cache.disk.enable to false in about:config you'll get a tremendous speedup, at the cost of increased memory use.

Right now Firefox is taking up around 800mb with 11 tabs open. Is that a lot? Yes, but I have 4GB of ram, so do I really care? Its more responsive than Chrome now.
    
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post #2 of 14
Wow, thanks! I can't stand Chrome because when I used it before it was unstable as hell (I'm sure it has changed since.) but I love it's speed.
    
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post #3 of 14
going to try this out...
using a macbook air for this with only 4gb memory...kinda lame they should give you the ability to upgrade memory for these notebooks instead of soldering it on the board..
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post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by odin2free View Post

going to try this out...
using a macbook air for this with only 4gb memory...kinda lame they should give you the ability to upgrade memory for these notebooks instead of soldering it on the board..

I tried it with my 8 gigs and it has worked flawlessly I don't see why 4 would be any different.
    
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post #5 of 14
i created a 4gb ram disk for firefox to sit in and use, will run some comparisons between ram disk and 7200rpm HDD.

Back again.
ok so test was chrome vs firefox on ram disk vs firefox on 7200rpm hdd
214

the test used from this site!

and then with hdd cache off the numbers get so close! left on ramdisk and right on C.
318

great tip has sped up firefox no end!!

thumb.gif rep+
Edited by Big-Pete - 11/21/11 at 4:55pm
post #6 of 14
I knew something wasn't right when I noticed ccleaner was cleaning out 800MB+ of cache files from firefox. Just changed the flag and it's soo much smoother now. Rep+
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by XAslanX View Post

I knew something wasn't right when I noticed ccleaner was cleaning out 800MB+ of cache files from firefox. Just changed the flag and it's soo much smoother now. Rep+

Default value for Firefox 8 is 1GB of cache. That's just unreal.
    
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post #8 of 14
Great tip, and accurate assessment, the majority of people I know have atleast 4g of ram in their computer. The rest have ancient systems that they only use to check email lol +rep
post #9 of 14

That's something I already recommend in my optimize firefox thread.  Disabling disk cache can make Firefox so much faster.

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by xd_1771 View Post

That's something I already recommend in my optimize firefox thread.  Disabling disk cache can make Firefox so much faster.

It is indeed, loving it thumb.gif
    
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