Firefox 7 enters Aurora channel, improves memory usage

By on July 8, 2011, 1:00 PM

Mozilla has announced the release of Firefox 7 into the Aurora Channel. According to the release notes, the latest developer preview is "focused on delivering performance enhancements and optimizing memory utilization", addressing a problem that long-time users of the open source browser have been complaining about for ages.

The latest version will reportedly bring memory usage down by 30% or more for some users, thanks to various general improvements in the way the browser manages memory and a change to the JavaScript garbage collection process. As detailed back in April, the improved garbage collection will make the process of looking for unused JavaScript objects and freeing memory faster by breaking it down to many short sweeps instead of doing it all at once.

The new Aurora channel release will also include a 'Telemetry' feature to which users can opt-in for automatic memory usage, performance testing and reporting to help improve future versions Firefox. Other changes include support for CSS3 Text-Overflow, faster canvas-based animations, instant synchronization of bookmarks and passwords, enhanced font rendering, the 'http://' is no longer displayed on the address bar, and the browser should startup faster.

If you already have Firefox Aurora installed, you will receive an automated update notification in the next few days. Otherwise you can grab the latest developer release here.

User Comments: 6

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mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

I've never been able to use Firefox as my primary browser, it's actual performance has always been pretty terrible on OS X. Since 4.0 I actually have to launch FF, quit it and relaunch for it to be responsive or let it 'warm-up' for a few minutes. I've always felt like if FF on the Mac is a low priority for the Mozilla group. I hope 'Telemetry' gets Mozilla to care more about UI performance.

On the other hand Chrome has always performed great on OS X, since beta, and It's my primary browser.

Another pet-peeve for FF: it's not possible to run 2 versions of it at the same time and checking/relaunching for plugins at startup.

Guest said:

@marioestrada: As of Firefox 4, addons are no longer updated at startup, interrupting the flow. Instead they update silently whilst Firefox is running.

It is also possible to run two versions at the same time, you need to add -no-remote to the command line - and if you want them to use different profiles, you can add -P "profilename", with a different profile for each.

If you are having slow startup issues, I would also recommend trying a new profile, since broken profiles (and a build-up of badly performing addons) can reduce it drastically. To run Firefox with a clean profile, see:

Guest said:

I don't understand how people still care about memory usage. You can buy 8GB of RAM for less than $80 or 16GB of RAM for less than $150. I'm running only 6GB and I rarely see more than 2GB actually being used. :s

Guest said:

Yes, let's throw money at the problem instead of coding efficiently or creating a more on-demand, consistent experience. What exactly do you want Firefox to be? Vista RTM?

Guest said:

Because very simply with modern CPUs access to uncached RAM is very slow!

That's what SMT is about, run 2 threads in same core to do something on 100 cycle memory stalls.

Before FF3, I found it bloated and slow (even with 4GiB), but thanks to efforts at improving memory usage, it's felt fast & snappy on my box since and it's even OK on a 1GiB Athlon 2000+ machine that's 8 years old.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

I'm running both the Aurora and Nightly versions of Firefox and the browser is indeed much faster on startup and while browsing the Net so much so that sometimes I feel that it is actually faster than my Chrome 13 Beta.

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