Firefox 54 launched with a more advanced multi-process architecture than the one we saw implemented in Firefox 48 last year. The improved architecture raises the number of processes enabled by default from two to five, which Mozilla argues is a “just right” compromise between low memory usage on one side and performance and security on the other.
Firefox’s Electrolysis Architecture
Mozilla started work on the multi-process Electrolysis architecture more than eight years ago after it saw the advantages it can bring to a browser. Chrome implemented its multi-process architecture from day one, which could be seen as foresight by Google’s engineers, who saw that this type of architecture would be needed to protect users in the future. It was also a benefit of making a new browser from scratch.
Ryan Pollock, Mozilla’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, admitted that the organization wasn’t willing to switch too aggressively to Electrolysis because it knew it would break the add-ons that made Firefox so popular in its early days. Mozilla may have changed its mind when it saw that advanced add-ons that could modify the browser’s core weren’t needed, as proven by the popularity of Chrome’s simpler extension model.
The good news is that the architecture doesn’t seem to be stuck on five processes-only, because Firefox users can also customize the number of processes to be used in the browser. You can enter about:config in your address bar and then change the number in dom.ipc.processCount.
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NOTE: Having lots of extra unused real memory is a real benefit. I wouldn't do this on a system with say 8 Gb or less of memory. My dom.ipc.processCount is set to 20 which is fine for the way I beat up my browser.
BTW, I apologize for not getting this out sooner, I've been otherwise preoccupied with other stuff.. I promise I'll try to be better.. just please don't beat me!
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