Mozilla Still Flummoxed by Firefox' Appetite for Memory

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Anyone who uses Firefox on Windows knows the browser has an almost insatiable appetite for memory, and it's not unheard of for PCs to allocate a half GB or more of memory just to the browser alone.

Mozilla continues to deny that Firefox leaks much memory, but Christopher Blizzard, a member of Mozilla's board, says fixing the issue is a priority - - especially now that the browser developers are seeking to plow directly into the mobile space.

Writes Blizzard:

As Mozilla starts down the path to running in the mobile space we are spending time looking at memory pressure issues more closely. . . (I)t sounds like the early data suggests that Mozilla really doesn't leak that much memory at all. But it does thrash the allocator pretty hard and that's what causes the perception of memory leaks.

Blizzard refers to findings of developer Stuart Parmenter, which contains more information about memory and browser use than you'd probably ever want to know. Parmenter attributes the problem to "memory fragmentation." Whatever it is, it can cause a PC to grind to such slow performance that sometimes it's just easier to "X" out of Firefox or reboot altogether.

Now, imagine that happening on a smart phone, and getting in the way of your ability to make or receive phone calls. This is just one of the many challenges Mozilla and its developers face as they try to move from the PC to the handheld arena.

"Over the next few months it will be very interesting to see what happens with both memory usage and perceived performance especially as we connect those numbers to a successful mobile strategy," Blizzard writes.

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