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What browser is the best? We have the information you need to decide

In the last segment of our next generation browser benchmarking and comparison, we looked at user interface features and installation details.  We also benchmarked install times and application launch times.  We now will turn our attention to CPU and memory usage in this segment.  We'll also briefly contrast security in the next gen browsers.  This segment will be followed by a third and final installment in which we'll examine performance in popular benchmarks and standards support.

4.  Resource Usage

One of the most critical aspects of a program is the amount of resources it uses per the amount of work it does.  We measured memory and CPU usage for each browser with ten tabs open and loaded -- DailyTech, AnandTech, CNET, CNN, Sports Illustrated, Gamefaqs, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook (logged in).  We then took measurements after 15, 20, and 25 minutes of operation.

When it comes to memory, Firefox really shows its worth.  This may be surprising to some as early in its development the Firefox browser was known as a memory hog, due to memory leaks.  This has completely turned around and it is now the slimmest entry. Namoroka uses significantly more memory than 3.5.2, but hopefully this is just one of the rough edges that are to be expected of an alpha release.

Looking at the rest of the pack, Opera deserves an honorable mention for a close second in memory usage.  Safari and Chrome, on the other hand, were both memory hungry.  However, no application was quite as bad when it came to memory as Internet Explorer 8, which used nearly twice the memory of its closest competitor.

Turning to the CPU, Opera was in the lead for least average use.  Opera 9.6 also led for the lowest maximum observed CPU use.  Opera 10.0 did show a rather high maximum usage.  This is due to a brief, rather uncharacteristic, spike.  This appears to be a rather isolated occurrence, but nonetheless we kept the result.

Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer were all rather poor when it came to CPU use.  Chrome 4 ate up the most CPU, topping at an unpleasant maximum of 64 percent.  Firefox, on the other hand, showcased low usage (with no add-ons installed), though 3.6a1 was a bit more CPU hungry than 3.5.2.  Again, hopefully these issues will be resolved before release.

5.  Security:

Having looked at the resources used, its also important to look at what is being done with them.  We already concluded that Opera provides the most built in features (non-security) in our first review (though Firefox wins when add-ons are considered).  But what about security features?

The below table illustrates some highlights of these browsers' track record:

Browser Tab/Process Isolation Private Browsing Mode Popup Blocking Ad-Filtering (JS, Flash) Anti-Phishing Malware Blacklist Unpatched Security Flaws, Secunia Unpatched Security Flaws, SecurityFocus
Opera 9.6 No No Yes Yes, click required Weak Weak 0 2
Opera 10.0 No No Yes Yes, click required Weak Weak 0 2
Firefox 3.5 No Yes Yes Via add-on Moderate Moderate 0 0
Firefox 3.6 No Yes Yes Via add-on Moderate Moderate 0 0
Chrome 2 Yes Yes Yes No Weak Weak 0 0
Chrome 3 Yes Yes Yes No Weak Weak 0 0
Chrome 4 Yes Yes Yes No Weak Weak 0 0
IE 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes (via InPrivate Filter) Strong Strong 2 16
Safari 3 No Yes Yes Via add-on Weak Weak 0 0
Safari 4 No Yes Yes Via add-on Weak Weak 0 0

As you can see, security is a rather confusing topic to rate the browsers on.  On one hand, IE 8 offers an excellent private browsing mode, tab isolation, and great blacklisting of malicious sites.  On the other hand, its InPrivate Filter doesn't catch all ads.  IE 8 is also the most frequently attacked and exploited browser, though Microsoft puts great effort into patching as quickly as possible. 

Despite this, IE 8 for the very inexperienced/naive user is probably the best bet as it blocks more blatantly malicious sites than the rest of the field.  Microsoft-sponsored research puts this block rate at 81 percent versus the next closest competitor -- Firefox -- at 27 percent.  This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Microsoft deserves praise for its progress on this front. 

Chrome offers good overall protection with tab isolation, a private browsing mode and less vulnerabilities, but it is victim to probably the most ads of any of the browsers.  Firefox is a close runner up to IE 8, especially when add-ons are considered.  However, it lacks tab isolation.  Opera and Apple have both put a fair deal of thought into their security efforts, but they just aren't as strong or focused as those of Microsoft, Mozilla, and Google.

Note: All benchmarks were performed in 32-bit Vista on a Sony VAIO laptop with 3 GB of RAM, a T8100 Intel Processor (2.1 GHz), and a NVIDIA 8400 GT mobile graphics chip. The number of processes was kept consistent and at a minimum to reflect stock performance.

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Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 1:39:19 PM , Rating: 5
I just opened all 10 of the listed web pages in IE8 and I'm only getting 181 megs of memory in use.

Did someone not investigate when they saw such an unusual discrepancy in performance?

RE: Something is wrong.
By MrDiSante on 9/8/2009 2:08:30 PM , Rating: 3
I was about to comment on the same thing, I'm running 64-bit Windows 7 and in the 32-bit version of IE8 I'm only get 224MB with the same tabs open. What gives folks?

As well, how about including Protected Mode IE as a security feature? The one that lets IE get trashed by security exploits and it still can't do anything to your user account?

RE: Something is wrong.
By B3an on 9/9/2009 12:51:40 AM , Rating: 1
What bothers me more is how low CPU usage is considered good... i mean if a browser uses more CPU percentage and makes good use of multiple cores to get better performance i would consider that a good thing, not bad.
High CPU usage could be considered a bad thing if the browser was not efficient at making good use of the CPU but we dont know that.

Same with memory though really, if a browser used something like 10MB then i'm sure, actually i know, performance would suck. So again low memory usage is not always bad.

RE: Something is wrong.
By afkrotch on 9/9/2009 1:44:04 AM , Rating: 4
Huh? Not everyone is going to have a high end machine or one with multiple cores. Netbooks are becoming highly popular too. The last thing you'd want is a bloated browser that is using a lot of your processing power or memory.

A well written program wouldn't need to use a lot of power or memory.

RE: Something is wrong.
By foolsgambit11 on 9/9/2009 2:22:22 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, all things being equal, memory usage should be roughly equivalent viewing the same sites. Average CPU utilization is a similar story - if the browser is really getting things done quicker by using the CPU more for brief periods, the extra down time should average things out to the level as a slower browser, if they are both equally efficient. Peak usage is a bit different, though.

And then, in a resource-starved environment, these browsers may behave differently. Using resources and needing to use resources aren't always the same thing.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Staples on 9/9/2009 10:37:01 AM , Rating: 1
We all have to keep bashing IE8 you know. Microsoft could never possibly produce anything good. :)

As for me, I use IE8 a lot and it works fine.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/8/2009 2:53:08 PM , Rating: 2
What? you mean someone fudged data on a Microsoft product? NEVER! Especially such a unbiased author!

Toms hardware does the same thing when showing benchmark results especially when it is showing some sort of "flaw" about AMD CPUs or Nvidia graphics cards.

Though in the writer's defense, purely for Devil's advocate's sake, did you try ANY of the other browsers with the same 10 sites? If your number on browser 2 MATCHES the graph or near it, then I would cry foul, if it shows the graph is high on that as well, you might just have a better system to judge it on than the writer did. Before you blame the results based on your percieved incorrectness, try to duplicate the full thing. I am quite interested to know if the other browers are equal to the chart, or less, or more...

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 3:05:17 PM , Rating: 3
No, I did not try the other browsers but in this case I don't believe I need to. (I do follow your logic though and I agree with it)

I would imagine *some* variation on memory usage depending on the machine but not that much. Keep in mind that most userland apps do not bother to lookup available physical memory nor do they care. It's just 4GB of address space and the OS handles it after that.

I am not out to redo his whole benchmark. I have pointed out a very obvious problem that he should have spotted and investigated though. Something this obvious calls into question the entire test.

Seriously, look at that graph. How can it not raise a concern?

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 4:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
I predict this post will get modded to oblivion. There are some bad problems with that theory.

RE: Something is wrong.
By afkrotch on 9/9/2009 1:45:54 AM , Rating: 1
lol, no kidding. That post is retarded.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 3:21:33 PM , Rating: 1
heh...I see where your post is headed too :P

RE: Something is wrong.
By Alexstarfire on 9/8/2009 3:51:48 PM , Rating: 3
Did you wait up to 25 minutes like they did in the "article?" I'm betting you just opened all of them, checked the memory usage, then closed it. The problem with that is that it won't showcase any memory leaks, though tells you what it's memory usage likely should be at all times. Wouldn't do you get good if the browser only used up 1MB of RAM 1 minute after opening it if 15 minutes later it used over 1GB. It'd be a really shitty browser, least till they got the memory leaks under control.

Would be interesting to know if that's the case though. And at the rate it eats through memory.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 4:15:07 PM , Rating: 5
I left the browser open since my original post. It was at 186megs when I first opened all tabs then dropped to 181 at some time shortly after that and has remained unchanged.

If there is a memory leak that uses up 256+ megs of memory every 20 minutes then that means a 32bit IE would run out of heap in about an hour of idle. This would have made the news.

I do not think there is a memory leak. I think rather that this set of benchmarks has a flaw.

I would like to hear from the author, Jason , what he thinks.

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/8/2009 4:46:09 PM , Rating: 2
Im with you.
187.7 on opening all 10 pages
186.1 after 15
186.2 after 20
186.5 after 25

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 5:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
I just got 158.7 w/ IE 8 on a clean W2k8 machine. No flash or other add-ins loaded.

I'll leave it up overnight and see what happens in the morning.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/2009 9:59:32 AM , Rating: 1
I have heard now 3 people testing IE... yet not a single one has posted they also tested data on a SINGLE other browser. This makes all of your data worthless. If even a single one of you also did a FF 3.5 or a safari test, then your comments would be worth while, instead they are more fodder for the author.

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/9/2009 10:43:50 AM , Rating: 2
you haven't heard anything yet but your own lips flapping.

I tested chrome and firefox. Both were similar to the article. IE was not. That is the problem.

Where are your tests? I hear a lot of garbage coming out of your mouth but no testing data from you. All that talk and you would figure you would have done the tests yourself.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/2009 11:08:55 AM , Rating: 1
So after 3 or 4 requests for someone to mention numbers for other than IE you finally respond and I am the idiot? hrmm someone needs to learn how communication works (hint it isn't me).

As I predicted in my first comment along these lines, it isn't like the article author has anything against Microsoft with his steller and unbiased reporting... just in case you missed this the first time I will clarify... that is complete sarcasm.

Whining at me for asking for more information makes your case look weak. Also you have only posted numbers for IE here so am I supposed to read your mind and assume you did others? or maybe you might want to add that little tidbit in next time huh?

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/9/2009 11:26:48 AM , Rating: 2
and the lips keep on flapping. I have my numbers for both chrome, firefox and safari. I am intentionally holding them from you because you are indeed an idiot.

heres a hint...
without flash one of the browsers scores 76.8M at 0-1% cpu utilization.
with flash its 144M with 78% cpu utilization.
as to which one it is... it doesn't really matter.

we are discussing the IE numbers. They are fudged in the article. try to keep up with the rest of the group.

ps. no one is whining at you, they just want you to STFU and let the author speak for himself, troll.

pss. im still not telling you the other numbers, live with it...

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/2009 12:34:30 PM , Rating: 1
You are complaining (which is another term for whining BTW) about my comments. My comments are playing devil's advocate with your data. If you do not give some legitimacy to your data (with the Firefox, Chrome, or Safari numbers you claim you got) then your data is as bogus as the author's.

You can tell me to quit my "flappin" all you want, it does not make my point any less right. I would use a metaphor to point out your folly but people on this site tend to complain even more about that than you do about me trying to point out you are fanboy-ing for Microsoft when you make wild claims without facts.

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/9/2009 2:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
you can't legitimize the data because there is no baseline for comparison as none of the browsers meet 100% specifications. You quest for legitimacy is unattainable.

The only common data point is the page content itself, which is also in question because we don't know anything about the testing methodology. Given there is only one test machine then it is highly unlikely the test was done simultaneously which opens the door for a change in the website to askew the results.

There can also be browser specific ads on these sites that will cause differences in the amount of data used by each browser visiting the exact same site which also invalidates the testing methodology completely. The testing should have been done in a controlled environment.

fanboying for MS? The old fanboy argument? Seriously idiot? The browser I'm typing this in is Firefox, get real loser.

The IE data is garbage. Get over it.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 1:19:11 PM , Rating: 1
"you can't legitimize the data because there is no baseline for comparison as none of the browsers meet 100% specifications"

To obtain legitimacy in my eyes I need atleast 1 person to show real data from 2 browsers. How is that unattainable? if you computer incapable of handling 2 different browsers?

Step 1, Do the 10 pages with IE8, record data. Post data.
Step 2, Do the 10 pages with FF3.5 record data. Post data.
Step 3a, Discuss how the IE8 data did not match while the ff3.5 did, OR
Step 3b, Discuss how the IE8 data did not match nor did the ff3.5, and mention how both were off by X ammount +/- the article.

That is how a debate/discussion should work.

Instead you did just Step 1 and went straight into left field and claimed that step 2 and 3 weren't needed because due to your own biased opinion it would produce incorrect results from what you expect.

I understand you want to complain about the "incorrect" results about IE8, I also note that the author has never been kind to Microsoft products. This alone does not make his data incorrect.

To sum it up one more time seeing as you miss it time and time again, If you show 1 point of data it is worthless unless you give it a bit of validity with providing firefox or safari or chrome data as well. As much as you guys are crying about the issue I am surprised people haven't just provided fake information by now just to make their point (albiet it is just as BS as anything else you have been posting atleast it is "data").

I understand you are all up in arms because my opinion is different than yours so you have to hate me just because you haven't learned adult interaction, but if you want your point to come across as more than just fanboy comments and have a bit of intelligence into them, then you need more than just "hey you are wrong! boo hoo"

RE: Something is wrong.
By BuckinBottoms on 9/10/2009 2:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
you don't understand anything.

all the steps have been done by myself and others. ive tested nearly all the browsers in the article.

and no, one point of data is fine. the data is checked against the sites themselves as they are the baseline. the browsers are the variables. there is no baseline between variables because there is no browser that renders all pages perfectly. get it genius?

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 11:40:11 AM , Rating: 2
Really the numbers on the other browsers are irrelevant.


Don't try to explain about how you need to compare all on an equal platform. I understand that and I don't care. I am interested to know why the numbers for IE are utterly retarded. .

If the difference was subtle then yes I could see platform variations accounting for the difference and comparison with all the other browsers would be beneficial. This is NOT the case.

We've had 3 people check IE and I myself have checked on 3 machines. So basically 5 machines are falling into the ~180 meg range yet the article says half a gig.

If you think this data is irrelevant then you'll have to explain away the statistical significance of 5 machines getting the same number.

Since you're all gripey whiney why don't YOU go test all of them. If they sanity check then let us know what number you are getting for IE8.

My preference would be for the author to get off his rear and explain this.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 3:18:52 PM , Rating: 3
Let me explain this again for those in the cheap seats as you are missing my point blantantly.

Please try to keep up with the discussion next time.

You need to lose the condescending attitude. It is unnecessary and it just makes you look like a tool with a weak argument. I am not insulting you (defending you in other posts actually) so do not insult me. Nothing about this is personal so don't make it that way.

You have explained your self repeatedly and everyone understands what you are trying to say. They are not disagreeing because they fail to understand your point. They are disagreeing because your point is wrong.

We are not interested in comparing IE to FF. It is not necessary to use FF as a data point on two different machines. I do not care if the same IE to FF ratio is maintained or differs on other machines. I am not interested in a correlation or lack thereof with other broswer performance across multiple platforms. I simply care about the IE to IE comparison on two machines.

Look at it this way... Imagine this article was not a browser comparison at all. Instead imagine it is simply an article about memory usage in IE. The author has stated that with a given set of pages open that IE consumes 500 megs of memory. 5+ other machines show it to be in the ~180 meg range. There is a problem with that. The benchmarker needs to go review his testing and find out where he introduced a variable. (and does not matter if that same variable affects FF or doesn't...not interested)

RE: Something is wrong.
By Nekrik on 9/9/2009 8:24:29 PM , Rating: 3
It's been a day since your original post and still no response from JM or any other of the staff members. By now it would be appropriate for them to at least acknowledge that they are looking into it regardless if they have found the cause of the discrepency.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 2:46:00 PM , Rating: 1
"You need to lose the condescending attitude. "

You mean like the comments I was responding to that were quite professional.

Some examples;

"Since you're all gripey whiney why don't YOU ..."

"fanboying for MS? The old fanboy argument? Seriously idiot? The browser I'm typing this in is Firefox, get real loser."

"and the lips keep on flapping. I have my numbers for both chrome, firefox and safari. I am intentionally holding them from you because you are indeed an idiot."

And in your own reply you say:
" It is unnecessary and it just makes you look like a tool "

Calling someone a tool isn't rude?

So, when I try to comment professionally I am called an idiot, when I am rude I am called an idiot, so your point is what again?

I think you forgot how communication works. Thank you for your comments and have a wonderful day. =)

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/11/2009 2:31:32 AM , Rating: 2
You're doing it again.

This is not personal.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 11:30:11 AM , Rating: 2
177.4 megs approx 11 hours later.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/11/2009 2:57:26 AM , Rating: 3
And actually because some people are tards I'll go ahead and provide some FF data. This is on a different machine:

Memory use after 25min.

FF 3.5: 196,924 KB (started at ~156meg)
IE 8: 200,632 KB (started at ~185meg)

Windows 7 RTM.
Intel i7 950, 6gig DDR3

This is a far cry from 526megs that jason's previous data shows.

Now that I've done it...does someone want to explain to me what value the FF data added?

RE: Something is wrong.
By Nekrik on 9/12/2009 4:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
well obviously it explains everything! the reason IE is not using as much memory in your test scenario is because FF has already claimed it :).

I say that in total jest hoping some people will enjoy it just for shits and giggles, but I'm also concerned some people might actually try to back it up and if that happens I am very sorry.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/15/2009 12:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure what's his name will come along soon and say something is wrong with it.

He's like one of those nutbags who believes Obama isn't American...nothing will convince him.

RE: Something is wrong.
By borowki2 on 9/9/2009 2:11:42 PM , Rating: 2
Just tried it on my not so clean XP desktop and got 183 meg.

The number that Jason got is almost certainly a fluke. My guess is that on IE8, he hit upon a particularly memory-hungry Flash ad. I don't see anything in the article indicating that steps were taken to ensure the browsers are viewing exactly the same pages.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 10:43:30 AM , Rating: 2
As with the others that I asked this same question...
Did you bother to try any other broswer and match it to the results the author got? If not, like the others whining and complaining your comments are worthless and have no business being stated to the public.

RE: Something is wrong.
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 10:50:23 AM , Rating: 2
Apperently while I know how to dispute bad tech facts, I haven't quite learned how to do spell checking before clicking post.

RE: Something is wrong.
By SandmanWN on 9/10/2009 12:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
lets be real here. you haven't figured out how to do either one very well at all.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/14/2009 5:45:46 PM , Rating: 2

QFT. I was thinking that same thing when I read it then found your response.

RE: Something is wrong.
By MrPoletski on 9/15/2009 9:48:51 AM , Rating: 2
Regardless of how accurate/inaccurate benchmarks are here, I guarantee that the excessive memory usage is because of facebook.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 5:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
As the guy who is kind of debating with Alexstarfire here can I ask that you stop modding him down?

His questions are legit and he's not being a tool.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Alexstarfire on 9/8/2009 8:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
That matters little on DailyTech.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Pirks on 9/9/09, Rating: -1
RE: Something is wrong.
By foolsgambit11 on 9/9/2009 3:11:43 AM , Rating: 2

Oh, Pirks. You're a different story. Although sometimes you do get modded down out of pure spite, there's often a good reason for it.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 11:41:57 AM , Rating: 3
Pirks you should get downmodded for breathing our air.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Pirks on 9/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 4:31:11 PM , Rating: 1
I eat sunshine and crap butterflies. Quit your complaining.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Pirks on 9/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Something is wrong.
By Smilin on 9/9/2009 3:19:47 PM , Rating: 2
I changed my mind. He's being a tool now. Mod away.

RE: Something is wrong.
By Bob2559 on 9/10/2009 1:00:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'm using 32 bit XP-MCE2005 and tried opening the same sites. Task manager shows six instances of iexplore using a total of over 350MB of memory.

That's basic IE8, no add-ons and no toolbars.

I don't think it's completely unreasonable to think that 32 bit Vista manages to use even more memory than XP with IE8, but I don't have a Vista PC to test the theory with.

more graphs not matching the text
By invidious on 9/8/2009 12:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
When it comes to memory, Firefox really shows its worth.
How do you figure? FF 3.5 is the best on the chart but their latest installment 3.6 is slower than Opera 10. You can't pick and choose which version of the program to use for which test depending on the results. Either use 3.6 or 3.5, not both.

FF and Opera are so close in that category that they are essentially the same. Declaring one winner short sighted because you margin of error is likely higher than the margin of victory.

RE: more graphs not matching the text
By JasonMick on 9/8/2009 12:21:31 PM , Rating: 5
First, Firefox 3.6 is an alpha build, versus Opera 10 which a release build. I'm not knocking Opera 10 at all -- I like it -- but you have to cut FF 3.6 a little slack due to its alpha status. The facts stand that in my testing FF 3.5 consistently had the leanest memory footprint.

Opera was also very good when it comes to memory, as I pointed out.

When it comes to benchmarks, all need to be taken with a grain of salt. Just because Anandtech says a certain AMD 4850 graphics card on a specific set of hardware will get 42.2 fps in Crysis at a certain screen resolution doesn't mean that it will always get that (well, perhaps in *some* synthetic benchmarks, but not typically in custom usage-based benchmarks). There's always a margin of error.

When viewing benchmarks its also important to approach them with the mindset of -- "Which products lead the crop? Which lag?" That way you can draw more accurate conclusions, accepting that there may be a small margin of error in the results.

RE: more graphs not matching the text
By invidious on 9/8/2009 1:45:15 PM , Rating: 2
After posting my comment I immediately realized I was going to get hung out to dry for only criticizing the FF example.

All I was trying to say was that you can't cherry pick your results from various versions and then pull them back under the same umbreall for your conclusions. I could say this for several of your conclusions, not just the FF ones.

By invidious on 9/8/2009 1:46:14 PM , Rating: 1

damn we need edit buttons.

RE: more graphs not matching the text
By inighthawki on 9/8/2009 12:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Firefox 3.6 isnt out yet and is still in its beta stage, which means its not optimized. The average user will not be USING FF3.6 so it's safe to say that for the benchmarks, 3.5 is what's being counted.

RE: more graphs not matching the text
By PhoenixKnight on 9/8/2009 2:11:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's not even as far as beta stage, it's still in alpha.

RE: more graphs not matching the text
By PitViper007 on 9/8/2009 2:53:39 PM , Rating: 3
Which begs the question, why is in this list at all competing against fully released browsers?

By fatedtodie on 9/8/2009 3:00:44 PM , Rating: 3
It is an attempt to say "even an alpha build of FF beats IE" though because the author didn't state that it is left as a "silent" jab.

By Divineburner on 9/8/2009 12:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is, the stable Firefox release is 3.5, and the stable Opera release is 10.0, thus it makes sense to compare the memory of the different browsers in their respective stable release.

Look, Firefox 3.6a1 is still an alpha, not even a beta, and you want to compare it against the full-released Opera 10?

Anyway, the point of having several versions is to let us know what the future of the browsers are like, as well as what the currentbrowsers are like.

thrilling conclusion
By chaos7 on 9/8/2009 12:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
I am getting curious to see how he sums this browser war up. Use Opera because it is the best in terms of CPU and memory unless you compared it to FF 3.5 but only if you don't consider boot times and if you don't care about security, etc... Or maybe don't use IE 8 because its a memory/CPU hog although it is the most secure.

Only time will tell.

RE: thrilling conclusion
By StevoLincolnite on 9/8/2009 12:33:26 PM , Rating: 3
Personally, I won't give up Firefox for any other Browser... Why? Simple: Addons.

Gives you massive amounts of possibilities in order to customize your browsing experience, adding features and improving performance. (There are Addon's which increase browsing speed).

Regarding CPU and Memory usage, regardless of the machine I have owned ranging from an Atom, Pentium 3 Tualatin, Athlon XP, Core 2 Duo, Phenom 2 X4, with memory sizes ranging from 512mb to 8gb, I've never had an issue "Waiting" for the browser to launch or pages to render, perhaps I don't notice it, but it always feels fine to me, Internet speed and latency and the servers being accessed seem to play a larger role for me.

RE: thrilling conclusion
By Morphine06 on 9/8/2009 12:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
Web Developer add-on alone is worth using FF for me. Can't live without it.

RE: thrilling conclusion
By adiposity on 9/8/2009 3:31:18 PM , Rating: 2
Firebug FTW

RE: thrilling conclusion
By foolsgambit11 on 9/9/2009 3:24:53 AM , Rating: 2
Check out Chrome 4's 'upcoming' extension system. It's certainly not up to FF's add-ons list yet, not by a long shot. But it's something to look forward to.

RE: thrilling conclusion
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 2:44:14 PM , Rating: 4
Or maybe don't use IE 8 because its a memory/CPU hog although it is the most secure

I just wanted to point out that the benchmark for IE8 appears to be wrong in regards to memory usage. When I do the same test I get 181-186 megs used rather than the half a gig shown in the benchmark.

RE: thrilling conclusion
By Alexstarfire on 9/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: thrilling conclusion
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 4:45:59 PM , Rating: 2

RE: thrilling conclusion
By Sazar on 9/9/2009 6:32:55 PM , Rating: 2

Typically memory usage under 3.5 was higher than my other browsers with multiple tabs and a long time open.

3.6 is much better but still has launch lag time compared to other browsers BUT it is probably the most robust build off FF I have used yet :)

Opera definitely works well too :D

By dagamer34 on 9/8/2009 2:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
Why are we comparing memory usage when most of us have 2-4GB of RAM? And we don't know how much information is cached for quick access so it doesn't have to be grabbed from the Internet again or loaded from a hard drive. I just find such a comparison silly.

The goal isn't to have the lowest amount of memory usage. The goal is to have the best performance in a web browser possible. Having the former does not mean that one is attaining the latter.

RE: Why?
By PhoenixKnight on 9/8/2009 3:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
What about netbooks, which often have single core Intel Atom processors and 1GB of RAM? Do you not think that having a small memory and cpu footprint would be useful there?

RE: Why?
By fatedtodie on 9/8/2009 3:43:37 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone expecting a netbook to be fast is a moron.

Also all the browsers have less than 1GB in their benchmark results. With a netbook's ONLY useful feature being is it is able to show a webpage on a light weight package, it succeeds and not a single one of these browsers is worth change to, or from on a netbook.

Semi rude comments aside, the main problem I have with this set of articles is NORMALLY when you display any benchmarks you qualify them before hand with the "test hardware specs" so you can say "OH on a netbook it is 500MB of RAM but I am running a i7 with 24GB of ram so it will be very different"

You comment regarding memory/cpu footprint is semi valid, but anyone that buys a netbook "stock" isn't going to care about benchmarks, especially when a bigger/faster hard drive is less than 80 bucks, and 2GB of the fastest ram a netbook can handle is less than 30 bucks, both keeping the total price of the average netbook well below 400 bucks.

RE: Why?
By Alexstarfire on 9/8/2009 4:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
You sir need to take a step back. First off, you're assuming that people only do one thing at a time on a netbook which is just simply false. Not that it's meant for heavy mutlitasking, but come on now. Also, I don't think you've looked at netbooks recently. Most netbooks are already price over $300. If they wanted to spent over $400, easily, then they'd probably just get a cheap ass laptop. Got myself a cheap laptop for $380 that spanks netbooks, even with upgrades that you provide. Not only that, but what kind of average user installs upgrades on a laptop at all. Heck, most advanced users don't even do that.

If you believe that 500MB is no big deal then go right ahead and use IE. Even if it's not 500MB like it says it's still the highest memory hog out of all of them, even if you take user comments as 100% truth. And that wouldn't be caching websites in RAM cause that would be very stupid. Ram is limited space, although very fast, and website info isn't exactly needed ASAP. HDD makes much more sense, which is why EVERY web browser has an option to change the amount of HDD space the cache uses.

Of course, if we're just arguing about the average user then we might as well just stop there because this wouldn't even matter. They very rarely do research on products at all. Means they are likely to use either FF or IE since they have the biggest market shares. But since we're all reading and commenting on this article let's assume we're all slightly above average.

The whole point is that the memory usage in IE is absurd no matter how you look at it and it doesn't provide anything in return. If that's acceptable to you..... then you are the sucker every company is hoping to hook.

RE: Why?
By Smilin on 9/8/2009 4:28:22 PM , Rating: 2
I'll agree that 1/2 gig of memory for those 10 web pages is absurd.

I still don't believe it's the case. Waiting on the article author to clarify.

RE: Why?
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 10:38:43 AM , Rating: 2
We have already examined the flaw in your data and your failure to clarify YOUR data so with your lack of qualifying your data why should the author waste his time with the likes of you?

RE: Why?
By Smilin on 9/15/2009 12:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
No YOU have already found some flaw in my data.

Everyone else I can see on this thread agrees with me.

You won't let this rest will you. Where is YOUR data?

RE: Why?
By Targon on 9/10/2009 9:08:25 AM , Rating: 2
Memory usage becomes an issue when you are running multiple programs at once, and the amount of virtual memory the system uses can lead to performance degradation. As a result, increased memory usage can lead to decreased performance when you have multiple browsers or tabs open at once.

There are MANY people out there still running Pentium 4 based computers with only 256MB of RAM(which wasn't enough even at the time of purchase), so for those people, IE is a bad choice, and really, the best choice without buying a new computer, would be to use a browser with the lowest memory usage available, even if features may be minimal. From that point of view, an old copy of Netscape 3 or 4 might end up being a better browser if the memory footprint is smaller(it's been years, but Netscape 4 SHOULD have a smaller memory footprint, even if it would run slower on a high end machine).

I'm happy with FF, but...
By Morphine06 on 9/8/2009 12:43:53 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone else notice that with FF 3.5 that when you click a link sometimes you instantly get the server not found error? An F5 will pull the site up just fine, but this happens probably 3-4 times per session for me.

I guess it could be W7-RC, but I doubt it.

RE: I'm happy with FF, but...
By puffpio on 9/8/2009 12:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
IT might be W7
I'm using Chrome 4 on W7-RTM, 64bit and I get that sometimes too...server not found, then refresh and I the website works

By Jabroney701020 on 9/8/2009 1:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
I use W7-RC with FF 3.5 and I don't have that problem at all. I don't use any addons with 3.5 as well and I don't have too much installed on the W7 either.

RE: I'm happy with FF, but...
By xeroshadow on 9/8/2009 1:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
I get that on Vista. My home page is MSN but in my toolbar shortcuts I have my Hotmail link and every time I click it after starting FF, I get the server not found page. I would have to say since moving to 3.5 is when this problem started occurring.

RE: I'm happy with FF, but...
By PhoenixKnight on 9/8/2009 3:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
I have FF 3.5 on my Mac at work and I've never had that problem here. I have Windows 7 at home, but I haven't upgraded FF to 3.5 yet.

RE: I'm happy with FF, but...
By monomer on 9/8/2009 3:48:49 PM , Rating: 2
I have that problem using FireFox in Ubuntu, but haven't noticed it using Win 7.

How about which browser "looks" the best?
By mitchelvii on 9/8/2009 12:27:24 PM , Rating: 2
I've tried them all and in the looks department, I have to say it is a battle between Opera and Safari . Safari makes text look nice and video seems to stream especially well on it. There is just something kind of "smooth" in the appearance of Apple products.

On the other hand, while Opera is not far behind Safari in the appearance of web pages, the browser itself is better looking and more intuitive. Also, and this is a big one to me, navigating favorites in Safari is a MAJOR PAIN, whereas in Opera it is a pleasure since you can leave your favorites open in a pane on either side of the screen.

Because of the favorites treatment and the overall look of the browser itself, I have to give the WIN to OPERA!

RE: How about which browser "looks" the best?
By mitchelvii on 9/8/2009 12:30:18 PM , Rating: 3
As a follow-on to my original comments, I know there are many fans of Firefox, but I honestly DO NOT like how web pages look on that browser.

It is as if they need to add more anti-aliasing or something to smooth the edges of things. Webpages just look harsh somehow to me.

By Alexstarfire on 9/8/2009 4:11:22 PM , Rating: 1
I'm pretty sure that that has little to do with the web browser since it only does what the web page tells it to do.

By Spivonious on 9/8/2009 12:35:35 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. I've been an IE user since version 7 (Firefox 2 before that).

I downloaded Opera 10 when it was released and I've been pleasantly surprised. It is fast to start up, fast to load pages, and is very full-featured. The only thing it's missing that I use is IE8's "Web Slices". I don't know if this is something that other browsers can implement readers for, but it's quite useful for me.

By gstrickler on 9/9/2009 2:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
I also like Opera and Safari. Clean, easy, etc. My main complaint about Opera is speed, compared to Safari or Chrome, it's just plain sluggish. Opera 10 is better, but still sluggish in some areas.

Chrome shows promise, but it's not quite there yet on compatibility and features. Speed and stability are very good. I'm not crazy about the appearance, but it's ok.

FF 3.5 is nice. Doesn't look as "clean" as Safari or Opera and it uses too much space for it's controls, leaving less of the web page visible than the others. Not a major difference, but if you're working on a small screen (e.g. a netbook), every little bit helps. It's similar to Opera in speed, but can't keep up with Safari or Chrome.

Right now, Safari 4 is my main browser on both Mac and Windows, mainly for the speed and clean appearance. The speed is addictive. On Windows, that latest builds of Chrome can keep up with Safari. On the Mac, none of the major competitors come close to Safari on speed, Chrome isn't available yet, FF 3.5 is a distant second and Opera is notably slower than FF.

IE I use for Window Update only, and I wouldn't use that if "automatic updates" gave you more control over which updates it displays.

By PAPutzback on 9/8/2009 12:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
I use chrome most of the time but I have trouble with it posting a reply when I hit the submit button. FF has never worked right with my bank (Chase) and between the two I have usually found that switching back to IE8 gave me the least hangups. I hate having to cut and paste a reply and url into IE8 from one of the other browsers in order to keep working. And is memory and cpu usuage a concern these days with as beefy machines most users have. And the ones conecrened with how well it compares to FF or Opera probably built their own boxes. Today it is about website compatibility IMO.

By teohhanhui on 9/8/2009 1:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't you be blaming the websites for not following standards? (Unless they're browser bugs...)

By Alexstarfire on 9/8/2009 4:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's both though. It's getting better, but it's not 100% yet.

By gstrickler on 9/9/2009 2:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
FF 3.0.x and 3.5.x work fine with Chase for me. Both Windows and Mac.

No - Just No
By GeorgeH on 9/8/2009 3:00:22 PM , Rating: 2
I've got 4GB+ of RAM, and I want my programs to use it. I've got a 2GHz+ CPU, and I want my programs to use it.

Saying "Less is Better" is completely moronic, unless you think Netscape Navigator 4.0 is the shiznit. You can even see why this is dumb in your own data by looking at each individual browser - or do you honestly think each one is getting progressively worse?

RE: No - Just No
By gstrickler on 9/8/2009 4:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
Saying "Less is Better" is completely moronic
No, it's not, at least not in the context in which he used it. If a program can deliver similar (or better) performance while using less RAM and/or less CPU, that is better. Computer resources are limited, no matter how much you have. There are also limits on how much CPU, RAM, HD, GPU you can install in a computer before you have to replace the whole machine and/or OS. Programs that make better use of those resources will allow you to keep more programs and/or documents open concurrently with less impact on performance. The more responsive your computer is, the more work you can get done. They may also extend the usable life of your computer, thus lowering your costs.

While efficiency is always better, there is a point of diminishing returns, so it's actually about balance. Unfortunately, you can't show "balance" in one chart because everyone has different computer resources (CPU speed/cores, available RAM, HD size/speed, etc.), so you have to show different scenarios that allow an educated reader to choose the combination that works best for their particular situation. That's the fundamental problem with a single "benchmark", and it's the reason that most reviewers show results from a range of benchmarks. On each individual benchmark, lower (or higher) is "better". If that benchmark doesn't represent a scenario you'll encounter in your usage, then you can safely ignore it. Choose the product that best suits your needs.

I want software to use the resources I've got efficiently, not just to use them because they're there. If a program can provide a significant performance increase by using more RAM, great, but if it needs 2x the RAM to deliver a 10% performance increase, it might not be worth the trade-off. Of course, that depends upon how much 10% is in user time and how much 2x RAM represents of your total available resources. A decrease from 10 mins to 9 mins using 2MB RAM rather than 1MB RAM is probably a good trade-off for all users, but decreasing .10 seconds to .09 seconds for going from 1GB to 2GB would probably not be acceptable to most users.

Intel ran into that problem with the Pentium 4 line, which is why it was a dead end. It's why the teams working on the Core derived CPUs have to show that new CPU "features" provide more performance improvement than they cost (in # transistors and/or power usage). All engineering is about trade-offs, about picking the combination that best fits ALL of the customers' needs.

RE: No - Just No
By GeorgeH on 9/8/2009 7:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
Way to miss the point. Windows 98 and Vista are both operating systems, they both run browsers that display webpages, and they both let me edit my documents. Would you say "less is better" when it comes to resource usage while performing identical tasks on both operating systems?

That's not to say resource usage is irrelevant, just that the value judgment "better" is completely ridiculous. As with 98 and Vista, browsers are not doing the same things, even when accomplishing the same tasks.

To finish with the OS analogy, if you tell me you run 98 because you've got a PII and 256MB of RAM, fine. If you tell me you run 98 because it uses less resources (which is better!) I'll call you a moron.

RE: No - Just No
By gstrickler on 9/8/2009 7:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't miss the point, and your example clearly demonstrates my points, which I've summarized below:
1. Not all computers have the same resources available.
2. There are both hardware and OS limits to the available resources.
3. From the perspective of each individual benchmark, lower/smaller (or larger/faster) is better and is accurate, but which is "better/best" for a given situation may vary.
4. By publishing a range of benchmarks, you provide the information necessary for an educated reader to choose the product that best fits their needs.

In the context used in the article, each individual benchmark has a "more optimal" result and a "less optimal" result, and it's perfectly valid to call the more optimal result "better" within the context of that one specific test.

No one would claim that a 10 second launch time is better than a 2 second launch time for an application. Clearly one is preferable to the other, so 2 seconds is BETTER than 10 seconds. That doesn't mean the application with a 2 second launch time is "better" for any given situation, it may be unreliable, insecure, incompatible, too slow, or use to much RAM to be useful in any given environment, but it's still valid to claim that a 2 second launch is better than a 10 second launch.

Memory use
By damianrobertjones on 9/10/2009 7:08:35 AM , Rating: 2
Two days later and the memory graph still hasn't been changed DESPITE people stating that they cannot reproduce the obviously incorrect results.

Are people being paid? Yesterday, Toms Hardware had 6 apple posts in the top lists and 4 basically on the 'same' subject.

People are being paid.

RE: Memory use
By fatedtodie on 9/10/2009 8:13:50 AM , Rating: 2
I will tear apart your comment line by line.
"Two days later and the memory graph still hasn't been changed DESPITE people stating that they cannot reproduce the obviously incorrect results."

It is a FEW people and they test one part of the results they only cannot reproduce the IE results and they don't prove the relationship to the other parts of their data (seeing as all but 1 claim they didn't even bother to try other browsers and that 1 won't admit his results). This makes their data compromised and unquantifiable. Te process to prove someone wrong about a graph isn't to say "my different computer got different results on 1 part of your display" the way to do it is to say "my computer got different results on all the parts of the graph" or "my computer while different reproduced the results on all of the graph items except for the IE data". None of these have been accomplished so end of story move on.

"Are people being paid? Yesterday, Toms Hardware had 6 apple posts in the top lists and 4 basically on the 'same' subject."
The ONLY tech thing going on yesterday was the Apple invite only Jobs love-a-thon, so handle it. When Microsoft makes any announcement they spend just as much time on them (how many articles have their been on the Zune HD? 4? 8? ok then quiet dow).

"People are being paid. " No kidding? you mean people working a job get paid? holy crap I thought they did the job just for the love and respect they get from their fellow man... Wake up everyone is getting paid, again move on.

RE: Memory use
By Smilin on 9/14/2009 8:54:35 PM , Rating: 2
Your logic is incorrect sir. 6-10 different tests with IE all BLATANTLY refute the graphs in this article. There is enough statistical significance that the article author should revisit his testing.

And you sir, should either do your own tests or stop criticizing everyone else.

You keep refuting everyone who offers proof yet never offer any of your own. Do you have an agenda? I am beginning to believe so.

Opera security is MUCH better than indicated
By exploderator on 9/8/2009 4:41:20 PM , Rating: 2
1. Opera has a VERY flexible "delete private data" function, that is a thorough and viable alternative approach to "private browsing". It has it's own costs/benefits. If they offered it "per tab" it would be perfectly equal. You can also delete items from the history list and cookies yourself.

1b. Opera has had "delete private data" for years. WAY before anyone else even worried about the issue.

2. Tab isolation? Opera RECOVERS GRACEFULLY from crashes. Which are VERY infrequent anyways. THE PIONEER in persistent browsing. It has offered "resume" from crashed session for years. Persistance works both as default behavior (always resume where you left off == can't live without feature), and as the crash recovery method. So, does tab isolation matter if the browser isn't crashing, or when you can recover painlessly anyways? Sure doesn't matter to me.

3. In all my years of surfing the gutters with Opera, the odd uncaught pop-up has been THE ONLY THING that's ever got me. Opera has pioneered built in pop-up blocking too.

Happy and safe Opera user, since way back when it was pay software.
They deserve huge respect and credit for their contributions.

By Smilin on 9/8/2009 4:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, tab isolation matters even if the browser isn't crashing. It is a security feature, not just a stability feature. Opera resuming where you left off is nice in case of a crash but it won't help you if a porn tab injects code into your banking tab.

By thepenguin99 on 9/8/2009 12:33:17 PM , Rating: 1
It might be worth noting that ad filtering is still possible via a 2nd program, Privoxy, for browsers without the capability. I know until I found Privoxy the lack of add filtering killed Chrome for me.

By Alexstarfire on 9/8/2009 4:14:24 PM , Rating: 2
There are other programs as well, like Spybot. Might say it's only for IE, but it works with FF too. Isn't the best program for it probably, but I don't intend on putting it to the test either.

CPU tests a bit misleading
By anuraaga on 9/8/2009 1:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
One needs to also make sure to take into account the amount of work being done. I don't think anyone would knock on a properly multithreaded application that uses 400% CPU when the singlethreaded one would only use 100% since it would presumably finish a task about 4x as fast.

The reason that in every case the newer version of the browser is using more CPU is because they're actually getting faster. In particular the newer breed of JavaScript interpreters use techniques to speed up memory access which in turn means higher CPU utilization. This presumably means faster page accesses and response, yielding a better browser experience.

That being said, from what I could gather in the article, the load used was just idling with 10 pages open. I don't think any browser would use any measurable amount of CPU for just idling so one or more of those pages was probably using some agressive JavaScript timers that happen to run faster on the newer browsers and inflating the CPU results.

At the very least I for one hope the "issue" with Firefox 3.6 using more CPU, likely a result of JavaScript optimizations mentioned in passing in the changelog, isn't resolved since I'd like it to use resources more effectively and leave it to the OS to schedule it and other apps effectively among my cores.

Longer periods of time?
By Zensen on 9/8/2009 2:06:32 PM , Rating: 2
Im glad to see in your test that opera has done quite well with itself in regards to overall package, speed and resource management.

firefox 3.5 is a big improvement in resource management but I still think even after a longer period of time, you'll see that firefox will creep even higher and more so with 3rd party add-ons.

By Uncle on 9/8/2009 2:41:34 PM , Rating: 2
Been using FF since v1 and will probabley stay with it. Biggest concern right now is crashes in Vista and Win7. Since 3.5 or there abouts, crashes, continuously, the pattern right now is FF doesn't like certain sites, all I can do is keep sending bug reports in, but to copy paste into IE sucks, which is why I think its site specific.The same site will work in IE. Went back to FF 3.0.13 and so far so good. How much do you want to bet its got to do with the Java implementation.

I have to ask...
By Jeff7181 on 9/8/2009 3:17:23 PM , Rating: 2
How significant are these unpatched security flaws listed for IE8? Honestly... I read some of the details for them, and 4 or 5 of the ones from SecurityFocus state there's no known exploits... which means theoretically it's possible but no one has been able to accomplish anything with the "security flaw." So how significant is it? Who should care?

I don't... I use 64-bit IE8 for all my browsing until I need flash, then I use 32-bit IE8 and close it when I'm done with that particular task.

By nofumble62 on 9/9/2009 2:52:45 AM , Rating: 2
It's like a driver know how to race.

It does not do any good if you have a fast car but you don't know how to drive fast.

When you surf, do you want to open another application while waiting for the page to open? If I have to do that, I would curse.

By Phoenix7 on 9/9/2009 5:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
Firefox is PWNING right now

"Best" Browser
By tmouse on 9/9/2009 8:44:24 AM , Rating: 2
The answer is simple, the "best" browser is the one you are most comfortable using. It's the same with operating systems. The outrageous claims about 1000's of man hours lost because of differences in browser speeds are pure FUD. 10000X more productivity is lost because of people twittering, or Googling "farting dog" or sending pictures of cats in silly costumes to 100 of their relatives or friends (who waste time staring at them or forwarding them or waste space by never deleting or reading them). For the average user you probably wouldn't save enough time by using the "best" browser to take a bathroom break. If you would save time you probably could save more by automating the process and remove the human factor all together.

I declare shenanigans...
By encryptkeeper on 9/8/2009 3:47:08 PM , Rating: 1
IE 8 is also the most frequently attacked and exploited browser, though Microsoft puts great effort into patching as quickly as possible.

Oh, what a load of crap. MS takes months or years to fix bugs. I think DailyTech did an article on it once. Here's one from computer world...

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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