Does the process-per-tab model that Chrome uses end up using more memory than Firefox and IE? Does it really matter? Sure, memory is cheap, but the cost of adding more memory is not insignificant.

+1  A: 

I don't know if it's inherently, but after trying it, it certainly does...

It's a good model, but it is not different than opening several different instances of the other browsers

Juan Manuel
+2  A: 

According to this article (detailed on page 2), yes it does. This was done by design since each tab is a fresh spawn of the browser to help protect individual pages and such.

Better or Worse? I guess that is up to you to decide. 8^D

+2  A: 

I think the cartoon covered that.

TL;DR the cartoon: Who cares? I seem to remember somebody saying something about premature optimization, but I can't exactly recall the circumstances.

This isn't 1988. We have got memory to burn; let's burn it on useful stuff, like more stable browsers.


It has to use more memory due to the overhead of multiple processes. I really doubt that a few megs of ram on a pc will hurt anything. Now on a mobile device it may matter. In Google's comic they say it will actually reduce memory fragmentation which will result in less overall use in the long run.

Brian Paden

This isn't 1988. We have got memory to burn; let's burn it on useful stuff, like more stable browsers.

Well, the only objection I'd have to that is that as long as the memory is properly managed, I'm fine with the larger footprint. I have my browser open all day with multiple tabs open, and in the early Firefox days, this would wind up bogging down my system due to the memory leak issues that were involved. That I don't want to return to.

If they can keep things tame and maybe do some memory cleanup every so often for tabs that I've closed, then go for it.


In my experience, no.

Overhead is required as others have said because of non-shared common functionality. However the memory architecture seems to keep things cleaner than Firefox on my machine with the plugins/tabs I view.

It would only use more if on a per tab basis the overhead for each tab outweighed the savings in IE and Firefox, and the offset of the javascript vm and webkit didn't provide enough savings.


It may use more memory, but Firefox is actually using more memory for me at the minute. It's interesting that people thought Google were getting into Anti-Virus software when they bought a company that specialized in this process isolation.

In the end I think it doesn't really matter how much memory it uses. We have become conditioned to this notion that it's a bad thing if an application uses a lot of memory, even though more than 50% of system memory is free at the time. If you have a lot of memory in your computer, why not use it?

As to the cost of adding memory, I don't think this is real concern for most people in the US or UK. If they don't have the memory to run an application users tend to say "oh well, maybe this won't run so quickly for me" or "I'll get more memory when I get a new computer". I would love see the results of a real study on users thoughts/behaviors, we geeks are too biased.

Tools such as Task Manager are also bad at measuring memory utilization and you have no idea whether memory is being effectively used by an application, or has been leaked.


Some answers here:

Test 3: Memory Use—Winner: Firefox!

How far the great-great-nephew of Netscape has come in its respect for your system's resources. Measured by Vista's Task Manager from cold boots and then with eight tabs loaded, Firefox shows some serious savvy with megabytes:

Do note, however, that Chrome handles tabs differently than others—each tab loads as its own process, so that if it crashes or stalls, the rest of your reading doesn't go down with it. So if you've got solid-state chips to spare, it's not that much more of a hit to run Chrome in a busy session.

Keith Sirmons

The proces-per-tab + UI process model is also used in IE8, so the question of whether it's more memory will be going away.

Seth Morris

One thing that no one has mentioned is that IE8 works the same way that chrome does with one process per tab. Just open a few tabs and look at your processes.

I'd say that firefox is just the only one behind the times here, and that eventually they'll follow suit and do the same thing.


For some reason, if you look at Chrome's own task manager, you can see that some tabs and extensions seem to share a process. I think tabs opened from a link in another tab share a process, but I can't figure out why extensions sometimes group together with each other or with tabs. Why should any tabs and extensions share a process?


In my own tests, it's not memory per tab that's important, it's memory fragmentation. When you close tabs in chrome, the memory is perfectly deallocated because the process exits. With Firefox, the deallocations fragment the heap.

This means that the memory is no longer allocated, but the pages might not be returnable or reusable because they have chunks of allocated and deallocated memory in them.

Over time, with constant opening and closing of tabs, Chrome is a clear winner.

In both cases, though, it's Flash that's a real killer on memory.

Lou Franco