Have you ever had a browser bog down on you? Maybe you have one too many tabs open, and without warning, your computer just freezes. Usually, short of a complete restart, you will have to close as many browser tabs as you can to regain control of your system. Yep, frustrating.
Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, wants to change that. With the new Firefox 54 update, the company wants to take a “Goldilocks” approach and strike a balance between speed and memory usage. This will hopefully reduce the dreaded browser-related computer crashes.
The first big change for Firefox was actually implemented in August of last year with the introduction of a new system called ‘Electrolysis.’ Introduced in Firefox 48, ‘Electrolysis’ (or E10s for short) separates each Firefox browser tab into its own independent process.
The first implementation of E10s isolated the browser user interface processes from web content. This means that if you have multiple tabs open and you’re running low on memory, the Firefox toolbar and buttons will remain functional.
With the recent release, Firefox 54 takes the Electrolysis system even further by utilizing up to four separate processes across all open tabs. With this new multi-threaded approach, Mozilla claims that Firefox runs faster, smoother and more stable due to even less system memory usage.
For example, before Firefox 54, a single complex tab can slow down the whole browser since Firefox ran all tabs with a single process. Now, complex webpages will have less impact on other tabs since the browser will be using separate processes – a user interface process, graphics processes and multiple content processes.
According to speed tests, Firefox 54 even beats out Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari. Although Chrome uses a multi-process system too, each open tab still uses at least one new content process, which can lead to high memory and power usage.
For example, if you have 20 open Chrome tabs, you will also see at least 20 different processes, each with its own Chrome instance and memory usage.
With Firefox 54, Mozilla attempts to strike a balance between memory usage and speed. By sharing processes that already exist in memory (the four default Firefox processes), open tabs won’t have to create their individual instances of these shared processes.
With this significant change, Firefox team’s Nick Nguyen calls it “the best Firefox ever” with “the largest change to Firefox code in our history.”
If you want to learn more about the details of this new Firefox system, check out Mozilla’s blog post.
Ready to update to Firefox 54? Here’s how you do it.
Firefox ordinarily updates itself when you open it; this is the default setting. But if it hasn’t, visit mozilla.com/firefox for the latest version.
What do you think? Will Firefox’s new speed boost be enough to win you over? Drop us a comment!
Note: We corrected mentions of Firefox 59 to Firefox 54.