Chromium and Firefox both consume obscene amounts of memory just to do basic things, more or less equally. However that changes when you're working locally using many applications, compilers, several terminals, code editors, and many documentation tabs open in the browser (can't close all docs I need whilst coding)
I've stress tested the machines I use for work and forced the memory available down to a lower limit to see how these two browsers behave under different conditions. Chromium / Chrome doesn't relinquish RAM as efficiently as Firefox does. Firefox uses inordinate amounts of RAM, but it knows better when to free it, and I'm able to use even limited memory configurations under stress tests with many tabs open. Chromium / Chrome just freezes randomly if you have 8 or 10 tabs open whilst doing equivalent work, sometimes to the point of halting the whole system.
For heavy duty work, Firefox just works better.
@h strange; the machine i've used most in the past year has 2GB RAM (shared with the GPU) and no swap, and my experience has been the exact opposite. chromium uses less memory overall, and when it runs away with itself it very rarely locks the machine up. firefox, not so much.
@h also, which OS / distro? which kernel? any VM tuning in that kernel? i ask because linux's overcommit behaviour in the absence of swap seems to be at least partly implicated in the issues i've found; on windows 10 32-bit on a similar spec, my impression is that firefox feels a bit faster than chromium, but that both are acceptably fast and stable... but then windows refuses to run without a swapfile