Firefox 54 Promises Faster Browsing on Macs With Limited RAM

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Mozilla yesterday announced the release of Firefox 54 web browser with new multi-process architecture that promises to make browsing with multiple tabs open faster and more stable, especially on computers with 8GB of memory or less.

With the latest release, Firefox uses up to four processes to run web page content across all open tabs. This means that a heavy, complex web page in one tab has a much lower impact on the responsiveness and speed of other tabs, according to Mozilla:
The old Firefox used a single process to run all the tabs in a browser. Modern browsers split the load into several independent processes. We named our project to split Firefox into multiple processes 'Electrolysis' (or E10s) after the chemical process that divides water into its core elements. E10s is the largest change to Firefox code in our history. Besides running faster and crashing less, E10S makes websites feel more smooth. Even busy pages, like Facebook newsfeeds, spool out smoothly and cleanly.

In Mozilla's own tests comparing memory usage for various browsers, it claimed that Firefox used significantly less RAM in macOS than both Safari and Chrome. The group has published an article on Medium explaining how the new E10s architecture works.

In one section titled "Why Chrome gets too hot when Firefox does not", Mozilla writes that Chrome's method of creating separate processes for each open tab can end up with each one consuming hundreds of megabytes of RAM, whereas Firefox reuses processes and content engines to limit memory usage.
By default, Firefox now creates up to 4 separate processes for web page content. So, your first 4 tabs each use those 4 processes, and additional tabs run using threads within those processes. Multiple tabs within a process share the browser engine that already exists in memory, instead of each creating their own.
Mozilla claims that Firefox's considerate memory usage means users with 8GB of memory or less can browse the web without the browser hogging resources, allowing them to do other things on their computer. Meanwhile, users with more than 8GB of RAM can bump up the number of content processes that Firefox uses to make it even faster.
To change the number of content processes Firefox uses, enter about:config in your address bar, and adjust the number for the dom.ipc.processCount setting (we'll be exposing a visible preference for this in an upcoming release).
Users can test out the claims by downloading Firefox 54 for free from the Mozilla website.

Article Link: Firefox 54 Promises Faster Browsing on Macs With Limited RAM
 

Zirel

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Jul 24, 2015
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It uses less memory because only a smaller part of the page is rendered.

Safari uses a little bit more of memory, but when you scroll, it's already rendered while on Firefox you have to wait...

Safari is better, also much better performance in JavaScript.

 
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splitpea

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2009
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Among the starlings
That's a start, but still not much use if it continues to peg the CPU of a brand new MBP on any page using a significant amount of javascript (which these days is all of them).

Since when is 8GB considered low RAM for browsing?
If you have a dozen or so tabs open at once (which is a low number for me), some of them to apps instead of flat content pages, it's easy for a browser to eat up a few GB of RAM. FF often breaks 5GB for me, and my 8GB laptop is in a constant state of memory starvation because - shocker - I usually have other apps open too. (The 16GB one usually has about 1.5 GB free.)
 

JosephAW

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2012
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Part of this problem is because of the switch to Intel processors.
I remember running the exact same universal app on my power pc and intel and the ppc used half the amount of ram. TFF still works great with 2GB of ram with no swap files being created on my G4PB17"
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
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I'm a rolling stone.
So basically * ALL Macs since none of them comes with more than 8GB!

So basically what??
* = Effects, is that what you want to say!

Not true, it doesn't effect mine, I installed 16 GB.


Part of this problem is because of the switch to Intel processors.
I remember running the exact same universal app on my power pc and intel and the ppc used half the amount of ram. TFF still works great with 2GB of ram with no swap files being created on my G4PB17"

Might be that the Intel runs 64 bit, the PPC is 32 bit.
 
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foobarbaz

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2007
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Since when is 8GB considered low RAM for browsing?
*sigh*

Even seemingly static websites have become more complex than most local apps we're running. However, while Activity Indicator clearly shows wasteful apps, wasteful websites are hidden behind fat browser processes, so nobody in the industry optimizes their web site for RAM usage.

Browser tabs are literally taking hundreds of megabytes. (I'm looking at you Slack!)

At the same time, websites keep insisting on opening links in new tabs, so unless you constantly clean up behind yourself, you'll quickly find yourself with dozens of open tabs.

Go ahead and checkout how much your browser is really using. Chances are, you'll be surprised. (Use "View > All Processes, Hierarchically" to see all additional processes)
 

Ries

macrumors 68020
Apr 21, 2007
2,212
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Part of this problem is because of the switch to Intel processors.
I remember running the exact same universal app on my power pc and intel and the ppc used half the amount of ram. TFF still works great with 2GB of ram with no swap files being created on my G4PB17"
Has nothing to do with it. Back in that day a highres wallpaper was 1024x768, now it is 3840×2160. A webpage was 1Kbyte html + a few blinking gifs and a 12k jpeg picture, macrumors frontpage is now 7MB of data.
[doublepost=1497438373][/doublepost]
.... I can't tell if you're joking or serious.
View attachment 703955
Those are not "Macs", but "Macbooks" on the Apple site.

mac.png
 
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batchtaster

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2008
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Those are not "Macs", but "Macbooks" on the Apple site.

View attachment 703957
..... I still feel like you're joking here. A MacBook is not a Mac. Right.....
If that's the case, then Firefox's memory usage on it is a non-issue, since it's not "a Mac" and therefore won't run the "Mac" version of Firefox.

Also, those are iMacs, not Macs. That's how it works, right?

I guess the Mac Pro is also not "a Mac", even though its name suggest it's a Pro version of a Mac.

Please inform Apple, as their website's "Mac" header is apparently wrong.

When I buy "a Mac" in your world, which model do I get?
 

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rurza

macrumors member
Feb 27, 2011
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lol, macOS 10? What is it? 10.10 Yosemite? Maybe they comparing the default version of Safari on Yosemite?
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2012
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Nice to see Mozilla is continues to update Firefox. I often use it in combination with Safari (which rules on the Mac) and don't want to see us reduced to a webkit (or webkit forked - Google) mono-culture.

For those interested here is a plug-in compatibility checker for Firefox. If the Firefox installation detects that one of your plugins isn't multi-process compatible it won't enable multi-processing for Firefox on your Mac.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/add-on-compatibility-reporter/

Adblock and Ghostery were okay for me - but the User Agent Switcher was not, part of Firefox (so I can run more than one instance of Firefox on my OS X desktop with different settings - i.e. different users).

Checking "about:config" in the address bar (say Yes), then go to "dom.ipc.processCount" in the address bar to see how many multiprocess threads you're allocated. Should be 4 if everything is good.

Because of my OSX User Agent Switcher conflict I only have 1 for my processCount. The Windows version of task switcher is compatible, BTW. Mozilla needs to update the OS X version (and probably Linux - they often share alot of code) of the User Agent Switcher to be compatible as well.
 
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tardegrade

macrumors regular
Jan 14, 2009
133
218
Devon, UK.
I'm a total tab whore. I currently have 102 tabs open over 4 Firefox windows. Using 3.67GB of Ram and a steady 26% CPU usage. It's the CPU usage that seems to be the biggest issue. Most of which can be fixed by removing unnecessary plug-ins and extensions and updating those that remain to newer alternatives. ...and errr I guess closing some tabs as well. Eek.

But even when I close down the windows and a lot of tabs to a sensible number and restart, the CPU usage is still consistently much higher than Safari.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,832
4,574
What is "macOS 10"?

Is it talking about 10.10, OS X Yosemite? Or 10.12, macOS Sierra, or 10.13, macOS High Sierra?
 

Rigby

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
5,260
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San Jose, CA
Nice. Now running with 4 processes enabled and multi-tabbed browsing does actually feel "snappier". ;) If you can't get it to work (check Activity Monitor for multiple "Firefox Web Content" processes), install Mozilla's Add-on Compatibility Reporter and check if any of your extensions don't support multiprocessing.
 
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BeefCake 15

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May 15, 2015
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I have 2012 MBP running on 8GB, still run FF from time to time but it has been hanging a lot lately on intensive websites.

Safari gets disoriented if you scroll long enough on Yahoo's home page
 

sudo1996

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Aug 21, 2015
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Browser tabs are literally taking hundreds of megabytes. (I'm looking at you Slack!)
I hate Slack. Messaging should take at most 100MiB total, not 300MiB PER TEAM, so basically gigabytes for normal usage. It's like they're running 6 virtual machines in there. And it's glitchy. And it lags no matter what. People need to stop hiring hacks to write their code.

A couple of years ago, I had Messages handling all of my messaging needs (iMessage + AIM + Facebook + XMPP/Jabber), and it was great. But then Facebook decided to be jerks and remove Jabber support, then Slack became popular.
[doublepost=1497460290][/doublepost]
Part of this problem is because of the switch to Intel processors.
I remember running the exact same universal app on my power pc and intel and the ppc used half the amount of ram. TFF still works great with 2GB of ram with no swap files being created on my G4PB17"
What does Intel have to do with it, other than the 64-bit architecture, which would at most double the consumption?
[doublepost=1497460430][/doublepost]
It uses less memory because only a smaller part of the page is rendered.

Safari uses a little bit more of memory, but when you scroll, it's already rendered while on Firefox you have to wait...

Safari is better, also much better performance in JavaScript.

Yes, a classic tradeoff. Taking advantage of RAM for caching can reduce processing. Firefox's solution just sounds like a battery-waster.
[doublepost=1497460880][/doublepost]
firefox is dead, long live safari or chrome or even edge
Dead how? They update it. If you look at which browsers support which web standards, Firefox is ahead of Safari.
 
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