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September 10, 2009

Google Earth 5.1 Is Faster

Google's 3D Earth browser has been updated and the latest build, 5.1.3506.3999, loads faster and it's snappier.

"We've made a lot of adjustments under the hood, like improving memory utilization so we can show more buildings, layers, and user content. We improved our shaders (that's graphics-speak for small programs that run inside your graphics processor) to make the atmosphere draw faster. We also worked to reduce stuttering (known as frame drops) to provide an even smoother experience as you fly around the globe. When we draw imagery, we now use compression technology to use less memory and graphics resources. We know that waiting for a program to start-up can be really frustrating, so we improved our start-up time by 25%," mentions Google LatLong blog.


While the performance improvement is noticeable, Google Earth continues to use a lot of resources. In a small empirical test, I compared the latest release with an earlier version and the results are even better than Google's claims:

Google Earth version Start-up time Memory usage when searching for "Paris"
Google Earth 5.0.11337.1968 11.5 seconds 183 MB
Google Earth 5.0.11733.9347 10.4 seconds 164 MB
Google Earth 5.1.3506.3999 6.9 seconds 145 MB

Update: If you want to download Google Earth without installing Google Updater, here's the direct download link for Windows. This build includes the plug-in for IE/Firefox/Chrome that lets you use Google Earth inside a browser. That means you'll end up with three different Google Earth versions when you upgrade: the old version, which for some reason is not removed, the new version of Google Earth and the plug-in, which wastes 33 MB by including separate copies of the files used by Google Earth.

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