firefoxMozilla 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.

firefox tests
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.

Top Rated Comments

gpat Avatar
89 months ago
Since when is 8GB considered low RAM for browsing?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sasparilla Avatar
89 months ago
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.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zirel Avatar
89 months ago
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.

(https://postimg.org/image/6e1t7xf65/)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fokmik Avatar
89 months ago
firefox is dead, long live safari or chrome or even edge
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
batchtaster Avatar
89 months ago
Those are not "Macs", but "Macbooks" on the Apple site.

..... 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 ('https://www.apple.com/mac/') is apparently wrong.

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

Attachment Image
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
miknos Avatar
89 months ago
So basically ALL Macs since none of them comes with more than 8GB!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
top stories 13apr2024

Top Stories: M4 Mac Roadmap Leaked, New iPads in Second Week of May, and More

Saturday April 13, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's hardware roadmap was in the news this week, with things hopefully firming up for a launch of updated iPad Pro and iPad Air models next month while we look ahead to the other iPad models and a full lineup of M4-based Macs arriving starting later this year. We also heard some fresh rumors about iOS 18, due to be unveiled at WWDC in a couple of months, while we took a look at how things ...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Apple's First AI Features in iOS 18 Reportedly Won't Use Cloud Servers

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:52 am PDT by
Apple's first set of new AI features planned for iOS 18 will not rely on cloud servers at all, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. "As the world awaits Apple's big AI unveiling on June 10, it looks like the initial wave of features will work entirely on device," said Gurman, in the Q&A section of his Power On newsletter today. "That means there's no cloud processing component to the...