Yeah... memory usage is a big black hole at times. Even on Windows XP where it shows the Mem Usage- that's a combination of WS Private and WS Shared.
There's three sets from what I understand- the virtual memory (which I didn't even touch on), the Private Working Set (the memory recently touched by the application and not a candidate for Garbage Collection) and the Sharable Working Set (the memory not recently touched and is a candidate for Garbage Collection). Windows uses the Free memory first- it's easier to allocate, and is not a big processor or disk I/O drain.
It might be good to include a summary of memory usage and perhaps links to a couple of non-technical (or less technical) explanations, so that people that download that don't have an idea of how memory work have a better idea of how to use process piglet.
Some of all this does matter though, because I have an older laptop with only 500ish megs of ram! So I def see performance lags on that laptop, so if the browser is using that all by itself, then the laptop might be desperately caching to keep up.
Actually, it still doesn't, even with less memory. The only way to make it not matter, is not to load the memory in the first place.
Ever been working for a while on your machine, then all of a sudden the disk light comes on and the entire machine just grinds to a halt? Even your mouse might start flaking out, or not move at all. And it might seem like your machine is completely locked. But if you wait for a while (a few minutes- maybe even 10-20 in bad cases), the machine becomes usable again?That's Garbage Collection at work
. When there's no more physical memory, the machine pages everything out to disk, then starts to stack them up in order by process so that the memory is nicely arranged, and the free memory is collected from each process, and at the end of the stack. It takes a while, and uses up your entire processor
And because of how intensive it is, a programmer can't even make it happen in a managed programming language (most of the more recent ones). You can request it to happen as soon as possible, but you can't make it happen. Mostly because it's something that you should let the OS take care of by design.