Google chrome: speed at the price of bloat?

Yes, Virginia, Google Chrome is fast. I installed it on my Windows XP work machine to give it a whirl, and it certainly rivals if not outperforms Firefox 3 in the speed department (though I haven’t found it to be as fast as some).

Hardware manufacturers everywhere must be thanking Google for this development. As this Slashdot article points out, both Internet Explorer 8 and Google Chrome aim to overcome the limitations that a single-process approach imposes on traditional browsers (i.e. more prone to irrecoverable crashes, less robust when running multiple web apps). What this means is that both IE8 and Chrome will be more resource intensive. Sure, you can have flickr, google maps, and photosynth running all at the same time in different tabs, but it will cost you in extra RAM and CPU overhead (not that this is surprising).

So, even if all our applications do eventually get moved off our desktops into “the cloud”, as some people predict/hope will happen, we will still need faster and larger computers to be able to run these increasingly complicated, JavaScript-laden and Ajax-y web apps. The days of the dumb terminal are over and aren’t coming back.

In any case, I’m sticking with Firefox 3 at least until Chrome is available for Mac and gets a comparable set of plugins.

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