Maxing Out Browser Tabs With 2TB Of Memory

Tabbed browsing was a gamechanger, allowing users to effectively browse multiple websites at once without losing context. It proved a better solution than using multiple windows, and was an efficiency boon celebrated by all. Many of us are tab fiends, opening great numbers at a time as a habitual part of our workflow. [Linus] decided to find out just how many he could open on a system armed with a full 2TB of RAM.

As may be obvious, setting up a system with 2TB of RAM is no mean feat. Special server-grade RAM modules were sourced, packing 128GB of RAM each, set up for ECC operation. Packing out 16 slots, there’s a performance penalty to addressing so much RAM with a single CPU, but for memory-intensive work, it’s worthwhile. The CPU in question is an AMD 64-core processor, providing plenty of grunt for the task at hand.

In testing, the machine began to slow down long before the RAM was full. Beyond 5000 tabs, things began to crawl. At 6000 tabs, it was simply impractical to open more, with the machine taking a full 26 seconds to respond to a single click. Memory usage at this point was just 200GB, suggesting that software limitations were getting in the way of opening yet more tabs.

While it’s not a useful measure of anything important, it’s fun to explore the limits nonetheless. We’ve seen their projects before, such as this original Xbox casemod. Video after the break.

39 thoughts on “Maxing Out Browser Tabs With 2TB Of Memory

      1. Let’s be honest. With tech none of us really know what we are talking about. Sure I know about logic gates, circuitry, programming, a bit about modern OS design and a couple decades of experience building, repairing and modifying computers. For the most part I’m still primarily extrapolating details based on what I know.

        However it is funny that I haven’t watched this and know exactly what settings Squirel is referring to. After all a lot of us rely on the lazy loading settings to fuel our tab addictions, especially with obscure libraries and chips.

  1. Microsoft Edge touts itself as faster and better browser. I want this guy to run Edge through the same test and see how many it can have before it starts to stutter.

  2. Well, if you use a multi-process browser designed to be an OS then it’s gonna eat ram. But I can and do do 1000 loaded tabs in 1500 to 2000 tab sessions in Pale Moon browser with NoScript. It stays under 8 GB or so. With my more normal session load of ~500 loaded tabs in a 1000 tab session I stay around 2-3 GB.

    Chrome has become a very nice OS but it’s lacking a good browser.

    1. Well I think my ChromeOS roadtest is coming to the end of the road real soon and I’m gonna stick Lubuntu on the Chromebook. Chrome Apps are more transient/ephemeral than google projects. If you think you’ve seen halfassed ports of open source stuff on Android, you should see the crap on Chrome. Reboots more often than Win98.

      1. I have noticed that there are two kinds of people. One thinks in a stack, and the other thinks in a heap. Personally, I use my tabs as a stack opening new ones when I want to be able to go back (push), then closing them again to return (pop). My brother, on the other hand, used tabs as a heap, leaving them around until their resources are needed, even organizing them into related groups (paging) and keeping them around between sessions. For him, they are like bookmarks, but more dynamic and freeform.

          1. Same here. With Chrome’s session persistence, I have my heap of tabs that are always open for frequently used resources. Some of my heap or essentially permanent (Ars, HAD, etc), some may live in the heap for weeks to months during a project, then get replaced with something else for a new project.

            Then I push a new tab on the stack for ephemeral use, closing it when I’m done. Things like shopping sites, or quick lookup items. I haven’t created a bookmark in years….

          2. On windows particularly, one seems to have less problems from opening more tabs, than closing a dozen, which seems to send system into thrash mode, which takes several minutes to resolve. So if you want stuff now, as you always do, you just keep opening more, and never tidy up much. Even if you had half an hour free you decided you would spend on curating your current tab load, you’d not get much accomplished, close a few, wait for thrash to stop, close a few, wait for thrash to stop etc, and you’ve whittled it down only by a quarter if you’re lucky. Every so often I have to just say, screw it, and bookmark the lot, boot fresh and start over.

        1. The problem with using them as a “heap” is that’s obviously how people end up using ridiculous amounts of RAM in Chrome before complaining, “OMG, Chrome is such a memory hog.” Need that “stick in bike spokes” meme for this.

        2. I used to be the worst! I’d have around 100 tabs open at any given point. At one occasion I felt so ridiculous that I made a screenshot of it:

          I’m a heavy user of Instapaper for read later list and Notion Web Clipper for saving useful links, and generally very organised but this wasn’t enough. There are too many things that just didn’t fit my model.

          Besides, saving links 1by1 takes too much work with any system. After some researching I found OneTab, Toby, Session Buddy and bunch of similar extensions for batch saving tabs. I tried all of them but wasn’t satisfied. One Tab is buggy and ugly and hasn’t been updated for years. Toby is hardly any better than the tab bar because it lists pages horizontally which truncates the page titles, plus you have to pay for the useful features, and so I ended up using Session Budy which is good is good in many ways, but not ideal. It creates autosaved snapshots of the browser windows/tabs which takes too much time going through to organise in a meaningful way.

          I recently switched to Tablerone which lets you save and close bunch of tabs with one click. It also automatically saves and closes all your open tabs over night and puts idle tabs to sleep mode to free up system resources. You should check it out.

    2. I truly cannot fathom any possible legitimate reason to have so many tabs open. Bookmarks are a much more efficient and useful answer. People open tabs and it almost seems like they are “scared” of closing them. My friend once got upset that I closed a few tabs while I was browsing on his machine. I was like, you do know browser history is a thing, right? It’s not like that website is going anywhere….

  3. I can eat through that memory in 15-30 mins. A back-annotated SDF timing simulation of a few ARM A72 cores in 28/16nm will chomp through that like a hot knife though butter.

    Of course I’d have to run a real OS, aka Linux, and get a few costly EDA tool licenses, what’s a few 100k’s?

    that test was about as entertaining as taking a tank through a kids sandbox.

  4. Reminds me of the day I put 512MB of RAM in one of my old computers. This was back in the day of Pentium 1’s (or 2’s possibly) when the average was around 64MB. I created a 128MB RAM drive to load and run games off. Worked really well!

    1. Also tried that about 10 years ago. But no notable performance gain, since the main drive was SSD. Bootblock virus stayed in rain. W95, 333mhz pentium, no hickups, no chrashes, just Lightning-fast.

    2. Ah, the days when you could use “High mem” as a ram disk for your compiler output. That speeded up compiling programs by a factor of 3 or more. Though my first PC had 2MiB of memory, it could only use 640kiB for most things.

      1. To some extent that’s his “everyman” regular luser persona, then he injects it with a touch of the manic to keep things energetic and exciting. This stuff could bore you to tears otherwise. It’s edutainment, not Computer Hardware Fundamentals 201.

  5. I’ve given up on tabs and started working with windows only i.e. one tab per window with the help of the Max Tabs extension on Firefox. Works great in a tiling window environment, couldn’t be happier. Turns out you don’t need all 50 tabs at once. And when you do need that closed website, let me tell you, there are these things called history & autocompletion & session that allow you to continue where you left off. Amaaazing!

  6. Your description of an organized heap is exactly right. Additionally, unlike bookmarks, tabs have a *history* and show how you arrived somewhere. Often it’s this I’m looking for rather than a particular webpage in a current or saved session.

    I’ve been doing 50+ tab sessions ever since Opera 5 came out back around 2003 so it’s definitely a habit now. I’ve also been saving my session files approximately every month since that time with a few years long gaps. Back in 2003 I’d keep anywhere from 20-50 tabs open. I wrote a perl script ( to parse my archive of saved session file in Opera/Firefox/Palemoon formats and used gnumeric to plot the data:

  7. Guess I’m the only user left on earth who absolutely hates tabbed browsing. I’ve never understood its appeal. I switch the default settings on all of my browsers to eliminate tabs, as I prefer separate windows, When I ALT-F4 an unused window, it only closes the window of interest. Alt-TAB also easily highlights the content I’m interested in. Depends on your OS setup and personal workflow.

  8. Great Suspender + OneTab + Ghostery helps me maintain my sanity on my low-spec system when I end up having a hundred or so tabs open. (Seriously; Imgur pages alone can easily eat up more than 1.5GB all by themselves without an adblocker.)

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