Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8, released in beta form last week, might make surfing for Internet porn a little safer, but the folks at exo.performance.network 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.