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Opera memory usage significantly reduced, improvements coming to Blink

There aren't too many Opera browser users in the world, but for those out there that are, drastic memory improvements are coming down the pipeline which will speed up browsing. The heap compaction that is present in the latest builds of Opera Beta, will be merged with the upstream Blink project, so that other Blink-based browsers such as Chrome will get the benefits too.

The heap compaction feature was first included in a beta version of Opera 39, which released two weeks ago. But, the feature was not made known to the public until today. Daniel Bratell, who is part of the Opera team, explains how heap compaction works:

“To put it simply, if you insert plates of different sizes haphazardly into a cupboard, it will be hard to use all the available space. If you stack them orderly, it will be more efficient, but it will also take more time to do so. And, since we put the plates (i.e., memory) in and remove them from the cupboard all the time, we unfortunately can't spend much time on making it look pretty. The same thing happens with the memory management. To solve this, we have added a cleanup phase to the “plate” management inside Blink which we call heap compaction. It reorders the memory to use less RAM, make the future memory operations faster… and look pretty too.”

The developers behind the project ran some research to see the benefits of heap compaction. They visited popular sites including NYTimes, Gmail, Amazon, and Wikipedia, and after 15 minutes, they looked at how much memory they had saved.

The results show that heap compaction reduces the memory usage of NYTimes from 9MB to 4MB, Gmail from 6.8MB to 2.3MB, Amazon from 5.7MB to 2.5MB, and Wikipedia from 4MB to 2.4MB. If you are a heavy user and take multiple tabs into account, heap compaction can greatly reduce the memory usage of a browser.

As mentioned earlier, Opera will upstream this technology into the Blink project, so that all Blink-based browsers can take advantage. Opera says that its engineers already partner closely with their Google counterparts to reduce the memory use of the rendering engine Blink.

Source: Opera Desktop Blog

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