Chrome Extensions eventually will use less memory than before

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 22, 2012
Google Chrome, Google Chrome extensions

We have just confirmed that Google's Chrome browser is not the smallest cat in the alley when it comes to memory usage. While memory usage is not the only parameter that is playing a role when it comes to a browser's overall performance, it can have a serious impact especially on lower end systems where each Megabyte of RAM is used by the computer.

We did not look at extensions in the test, mostly because it is not really possible to compare them effectively. First, extensions may not be available for all browsers in the test, and even if they are, they still differ fundamentally usually.

google chrome extensions

The Chromium team has just announced an addition to the browser's extensions engine which can be used to activate extensions on a need-to-use basis. As of right now, extensions run all the time in the browser which takes up memory even if they are in fact idle.

Google tries to drop memory usage in idle phases by allowing extension developers to make their extensions react on events only. A simple example would be the Facebook Zoom extension for the browser. Instead of having it loaded in memory all the time, even if you are not on Facebook, not using the feature, or idle on Facebook, it would only become active when it is actually used on the social networking site. In the remaining time, it is unloaded from memory to free up RAM for other activities and processes.

Extension developers do however need to add code to their extensions to make use of the Event Pages feature. This is without doubt the biggest issue right now, as it will take some time until the majority of extensions makes use of the new feature. There will certainly be extensions that switch to the event pages model fairly quickly, while others may never be updated to make use of it.

Closing Words

Event pages are only available for developer versions of Chrome right now. It will take a few months before they become available in beta and stable versions of the browser. It all depends on the companies and individuals who create extensions. If they start to make use of the new feature, it could improve the browser's memory usage considerably. (via Techdows)


Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Jupiter said on June 23, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Basically, the addons are going to work like userscripts. At least the facebook zoom that only works in facebook. What other types of events will be available other than visiting specific website?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 23, 2012 at 8:25 am

      I also noticed a time-based event, which notification extensions can use for instance to check regularly for updates.

  2. Roman Winterson said on June 22, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I’m waiting for something like that for restartless Firefox extensions as well (including, but not limited, to jetpack)

    1. GS said on June 22, 2012 at 10:28 am

      I believe that’s actually possible at the moment, although it’s rather difficult to actually implement. The developer version of Adblock Plus is apparently restartless (and doesn’t use Jetpack).

  3. Zlip said on June 22, 2012 at 9:30 am

    In future, Firefox will also have less leaky addons like Firefox 15 got a patch to fix certain type of zombie compartment issue.
    So Still for me Firefox > Chrome.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.