Meet IE8: Resource Pig

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8, released in beta form last week, might make surfing for Internet porn a little safer, but the folks at report that the new browser has developed a voracious appetite for memory and CPU cycles.

There’s been widespread reporting on IE8’s InPrivate (aka “porn mode”) option that enables you to hide your browsing habits, but the new software’s resource footprint looks to be significantly larger than that of IE7, and it’s nearly twice the size of Firefox 3.01. In a test scenario consisting of 10 popular websites (including CNET, the New York Times, and Fox News) loaded into separate tabs, IE8 consumed nearly 380MB of memory. IE7 required 250MB of RAM to render the same workload, while Firefox needed just 159MB. In fact, IE8 utilizes more memory than a base install of Windows XP itself!

And IE8 isn’t just a memory pig; Microsoft’s swollen code spawned a CPU thread count that brings to mind the bed sheets at a five-star hotel: Where Firefox spawned 29 concurrent threads in the test scenario and IE7 issued 65, IE8 choked the CPU (a 2.66GHz Core2 Duo) with no fewer than 171 threads spread over six concurrent instances of iexplore.exe.

Exo’s analysis concludes that Microsoft is designing for the future, essentially counting on four and eight-core systems with 4GB of RAM to become the norm, while simultaneously creating demand for the 64-bit flavors of Windows Vista and the upcoming Windows 7.

We can think of plenty of reasons to buy rigs with more memory and beefier CPUs; running a bloated web browser isn’t one of them.

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  • jhansonxi
    It's still beta (which is effectively an alpha for the rest of the industry) so wait until the first major post-release update before evaluating it.

    Firefox eats up a lot of memory also. Since some browsers rely on add-ons more than others I would like to see a comparison of equivalent feature sets including add-ons and plug-ins, especially the tabbed UI, Flash, Adobe Reader, and Java.
  • gamerk316
    jhansonxi, Firefox doesn't rely on plugins, they simply enhance what you can do. Besides, those plugins aren't loaded into memory if they aren't used.

    Also note: IE8 looks to be CPU intensive, due to each tab needing to be tracked individually. I doubt this will imrpove much (i expected this as well), so i'll stick with Firefox, thanks.
  • nukemaster

    May need more ram if it keeps all data in memory to make it easy to fully clear when done.

    With the way computers get faster so often, it may not be an issue for long. Kind of like how a high flash site brings a XP 3100+ to its knees yet uses less then 10% on a modern system.