Monday, July 23, 2012

Browser performance in Raspbian on RPi.

I've really enjoyed playing around with my RPi over the last month or so, in spite of its limitations (256 MB RAM, single core CPU at 700 MHz). Perhaps, however, the real incentive is to see what level of performance is possible in this underpowered little machine. Maybe this is where a sense of achievement might arise.

 Personally, 90% or more of what I do on a computer involves a browser. And the one dominant quality I need in the browser is speed. No I don't need a lot of extensions or fancy backgrounds. I want it to simply quickly open the page I choose.

 I currently have six browsers installed in Raspbian as listed in the spreadsheet below. To evaluate how each performed, I launched from the keyboard (with shortcuts included in ~/.config/openbox/lxde-rc.xml), and timed how long it took, first for the browser window to appear on the desktop and then to open the RPi forum page from the browser bookmarks.

 I also noted what percentage of RAM and CPU were being used by each browser once the RPi Forum page was open and nothing else running on the machine.

 Note that my Raspbian is highly overclocked with arm_freq=905, sdram_freq=500, core_freq=450. Additionally, I'm using a Sandisk 8GB Class 10 Ultra SD card and I've included "init_emmc_clock=250000000" in the arm_freq line as it's supposed to speed up SD card read/writes.
Also, at the time of the test, I was using a RAM split of 224/32 MB

 Of the browsers used, Arora, DWB, Midori and Uzbl were installed from the Debian repos. Chromium I got from here and Qupzilla I compiled from source as I've already described here.

 The spreadsheet below speaks for itself. All times are in seconds and RAM and CPU data are in percentages. Based on this very simple and somewhat limited test, Uzbl, DwB and Midori will be my browsers of choice for the moment. Indeed, the ability to control Uzbl and DwB using only the keyboard is a big plus on this low-powered machine so I'll probably stick with these.

Edit: (23/07/2012)
In a later test, I was able to bring up the RPi forum page, under the same conditions as earlier, in 13 seconds using Uzbl and in 11 seconds using Midori.
By contrast, using an updated Arch Linux install on a Desktop with 3GB RAM and a dual core 1.86GHz CPU, I could bring up the same forum page in less than 4 seconds sing Uzbl.
This puts the RPi performance on context. An overclocked device is certainly usable from a browsing perspective, but don't expect anything like the browsing speed of a modern Desktop or laptop.

No comments:

Post a Comment