Multi-process support in Firefox gets closer to reality

By on July 8, 2009, 1:14 PM
Mozilla has made dramatic improvements when it comes to speed in recent times, but one feature its Firefox browser notably lacks compared to Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 8 is multi-process browsing. As we’ve mentioned before, there are several benefits of having each page or tab run in a separate process, not the least of which are performance gains when using multiple processor cores and the added stability.

We already know Mozilla has begun a four-plus phase project, dubbed Electrolysis, to bring the feature to Firefox. So, how far along are they? According to the project roadmap, just about done with phase 1, which is to get basic code working in a prototype that runs plug-ins and content tabs in separate processes. In fact Mozilla's Chris Jones posted a video last month that shows how a page rendering process can be terminated independently, so that a page-specific crash would take down only the page and not the entire browser.

To accomplish this, Mozilla is using some code from Chromium, the open source development version of Google's browser. They are also contemplating the possibility of replacing existing Firefox components, such as the browser's network stack, with additional code from Chromium. Development team leader Benjamin Smedberg had has posted some additional information on the project, which is expected to conclude phase 2 by November 2009. The end of phase 3 should be synonymous with shipping, but a deadline was not offered for it at this time.

User Comments: 2

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Nirkon said:

Well seeing as Firefox has different architecture from IE and Chrome, hopefully making all the plugins and addons run in different processes won't actually slow it down.

Truthfully, at times I could have 20-40 tabs open, sometimes even more, I don't think I would want that many applications in my task manager, I wouldn't be able to see anything else.

Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

I don't think I would want that many applications in my task manager, I wouldn't be able to see anything else.

Don't fret. If it is anything like Chrome and Internet Explorer 8, they will show as a single 'process' under the "Applications" tab in task manager.

However, if you open the "processes" tab for a more detailed list of running processes, you will see each individual tab as a new process. Honestly, you really don't have much business there unless you're having problems and I personally think the performance increase will be worth that trade off.

Besides, the task manager could certainly be redesigned in the future to take this into consideration by grouping processes. I imagine a utility like that already exists as well, since there are a number of 'enhanced' task manager replacements available.

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