Microsoft's IE8 Beta 2 hogs memory, says researcher

'IE fatter than Windows XP,' uses twice as much RAM as Firefox in browsing tests

Microsoft's latest version of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) requires more than double the system memory of its main rival, Mozilla's Firefox, and spawns nearly six times the number of processor threads, a performance researcher said yesterday.

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Beta 2 also consumes 52 percent more memory than its predecessor, IE7, and uses almost three times as many threads, said Craig Barth, chief technology officer at Devil Mountain Software, a US-based maker of PC performance testing software.

"IE8 is epically porcine," said Barth. "Microsoft has gone to epic levels of bloat."

Barth tested IE8 Beta 2, IE7 and Firefox 3.0.1 in a 10-site scenario that involved media-rich domains such as boston.com, channel9.com, cnet.com, infoworld.com, nytimes.com and others. Each site was opened by each browser in a separate tab, then links on those sites were opened in new tabs. Both Flash and Microsoft's Silverlight were installed as plug-ins for each browser.

By test end, IE8 Beta 2 had grabbed 380MB of memory on the 2GB-equipped system running Windows Vista, while IE7 accounted for 250GB and Firefox 3.0.1, the most-recent version of the open-source browser, had taken 159MB. When the same tests were run under Windows XP, each browser consumed slightly less memory than in Vista; IE8 Beta 2, however, continued to lead the competition by wide margins.

"When Windows XP starts, the entire OS takes 130 to 150MB," said Barth. "Suddenly you're looking at a memory footprint for IE that's bigger than Microsoft's earlier operating system. IE8 is fatter than XP."

When Barth tallied up the separate processor threads each browser spawned during the tests, he also found that IE8 Beta 2's count was dramatically higher than either IE7's or Firefox's. The latter, for instance, never used more than 29 concurrent processor threads during the 10-site test, while IE7 spawned a maximum of 65. IE8 Beta 2, however, used a whopping 171 threads.

Piling on the threads, said Barth, "becomes overwhelming after a while" and can have a direct impact on the speed of the browser. The more concurrent threads, the more operating system overhead managing those threads, and the more the processor is stressed. Web browsers typically uses multiple processor threads, but when the thread count climbs, performance can suffer unless the application is running on a multiple-core processor.

That may be Microsoft's plan, Barth speculated. "If a multi-threaded application is designed well, and runs on a heavily parallel system, like a multi-core machine with four or eight [processor] cores, you can get additional performance. My guess is that Microsoft is targeting IE8 at the next generation of hardware."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?