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It hasn't always been smooth sailing for Firefox fans, and complaints of memory leaks always seem to resonate with each new release. And while scattered complaints still exist for Mozilla's latest update, it appears Firefox 3 may finally have a memory management scheme ready for the masses. Mozilla claims to have reduced the effects of memory fragmentation, tweaked in-memory cache, altered the way images are stored, and squashed over 400 leak bugs, and the result, at least according to one roundup, shows the efforts paying off.
Firefox 3.0 was pitted against IE8 Beta 1, Opera 9.5, Safari 3.1, and Flock 1.2. Each browser was given a clean slate to work with while running on Vista with SP1, and memory usage was polled every 3 seconds for just under 3 hours. When all was said it done, Firefox proved itself the leanest browser of the bunch:
Could this rank as a clear cut victory? Not so fast. By the author's own admission, "the exact individual numbers should not be compared to each other." Because two key variables remained inconsistent - not each browser was used for the same amount of time, and different web pages were loaded - this can't be taken as a completely valid benchmark. Nor should it be completely dismissed, either. One of the more interesting aspects of the roundup is found in the graphs. While most of the browsers showed a tendency to use more memory over time, Firefox stayed relatively consistent, backing up Mozilla's claims that the latest iteration manages memory much more effectively than before. Arstechnica saw a similar trend when they evaluated a late beta release, and site after site can be found praising FF3 for its overall snappiness compared to FF2.
It might be too late to make history with the new browser, but if it's been awhile since you last looked at Firefox, the time is ripe for a re-examination.