With my recent work in tracking down Linux power regressions and looking at other areas of Linux power consumption, there's been a number of emails sent in by Phoronix readers concerning the power consumption of web-browsers. In particular, some users seem to think that Google's Chrome/Chromium web-browser causes the system to go through noticeably more power than Mozilla Firefox and other web-browsers. But how much is this really the case? Here's some benchmarks.
Of those that have written me concerning web-browser power usage, much of it has just been concerns that their notebook becomes physically warmer when using one web browser over another and is burning through excess power. There's also been a reference to Chromium Issue 77625, which is about the Chromium browser causing an excessive number of wake-ups and using "massive amounts of power." For Chromium users, this issue is now fixed in the Chromium 14 development series.
The testing in this article is using an Intel Sandy Bridge notebook while it's running on battery and using the Phoronix Test Suite to monitor the CPU usage and power consumption while running three different browser-based benchmarks. The candidates for this comparison are Mozilla Firefox 4.0, Mozilla Firefox 5.0, and Google Chrome 13. The benchmarks were SunSpider, Peacekeeper, and ClubCompy Real-World Benchmark. Time was also given in the monitoring process for each browser to idle.
This browser power consumption testing was done on an Ubuntu 11.04 x86_64 installation with the Linux 3.1 development kernel as of 12 August, the Unity 3.8.10 desktop, X.Org Server 1.10.1, xf86-video-intel 2.15.0, Mesa 7.12-devel git-3ce2438, and an EXT4 file-system. The Sandy Bridge notebook was an HP EliteBook with an Intel Core i5 2520M, 4GB of RAM, 160GB Intel SSD, and Intel HD 3000 graphics.