A few months ago, Mozilla started a project called MemShrink that aims to make Firefox a leaner browser that uses less memory. Now, it looks like Firefox 7, which is scheduled to arrive as a beta version later this month, will be the first version of the popular browser to see the benefits of this technology.
According to Mozilla developer Nicholas Nethercote, Firefox 7 uses about 20% to 30% less memory than its predecessors, and sometimes as much as 50% less depending on individual usage patterns. The Firefox team also managed to clamp down on memory leakage and the browser’s memory usage will now remain stable, even if you leave your browser open over night.
With the arrival of Google’s Chrome, Firefox – which was long the forerunner in terms of browser innovation – suddenly looked rather bloated. Indeed, according to Nethercote, Firefox 4 added so many new features and technologies that its memory usage increased and slowed the browser down.
It’s About More Than Just Cutting Down on Bloat
It’s important to note that this is not just about reducing memory usage, though. There are a number of other benefits to this project as well, as using less memory also means fewer crashes and speed enhancements. This, says Nethercote, is especially important for users who are running Firefox on 32bit Windows systems, where applications are “typically restricted to only 2GB of virtual memory.”
Now that Mozilla has switched to a more Chrome-like rapid-release cycle for Firefox, the benefits of projects like MemShrink can make it into the final product a lot faster. If you can’t wait until the release of Firefox 7 – or if you feel especially adventurous – you can always run the Aurora and Beta channels, of course, and get an early look at the next version of Firefox.