What makes Google Chrome so fast, technically (redux)

Shiny Chrome.pngI published a short post yesterday about what makes Google Chrome so fast. I since came across a couple other items about Chrome’s performance which I found pretty interesting and I want to share with you. Anyone who has been following me for a while probably knows that I am a Firefox fan. It remains my default browser for the most part (I occasionally switch my default to Chrome) and I even have an emotional attachment to the browser that I don’t have for many other apps. Firefox has its limitations and, at the same time, great promise if Mozilla becomes more aggressive about mobile platforms. That being said, Chrome is a dynamic and powerful browser that I also use pretty frequently so insights into Chrome’s performance interest me quite a bit.

Virtually every discussion about Chrome mentions its speed and it is generally a pretty fast browser. It is also frequently updated and its set of extensions are growing almost daily. There is also a lot of information published online about Chrome’s features and some of the technologies under the hood (here is an interesting video about WebKit and Chrome). The Google Chrome YouTube channel is worth subscribing too and many of the videos in that channel are a lot of fun too, like this one:

I came across a post last night titled “Web Browser Grand Prix: The Top Five, Tested And Ranked” which surprised me a little. The premise of the post is pretty straightforward:

We decided that somebody needed to look at these browsers. So, we put all five major Web browsers through a gauntlet of benchmarks and time trials. We did this to conclusively answer the question: which is the fastest browser on Earth (at least until one of these companies launches another major update)?

The post then takes you through a series of tests in which each of the 5 main browsers, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer are measured and compared. Chrome came out on top overall but it didn’t dominate in all categories. One of the surprises, at least for me, was that Firefox had better memory management for multiple tabs (although not for a single tab – that honour went to Safari, closely followed by Chrome) than any of the other browsers. Actually, this wasn’t so much a surprise as it was a confirmation of something I had begun to suspect.

As fast as Chrome is, I noticed that the multiple sessions it runs when multiple tabs are open begin to take their toll on my MacBook’s memory resources whereas Firefox tends to stabilise somewhere between 300MB and 500MB depending on whether it is displaying media and other resource intensive sites. That sounds a lot but if you are running Chrome, those multiple instances add up pretty quickly.

I’ve gone with a two browser approach for now: Firefox and Chrome. I don’t use Safari much and it has lost its spot on my dock. The browser debate tends to be a choice of a single browser. It need not be such an exclusive debate and users can easily use whichever browsers suit them for a given task or generally.



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