Google Chrome v57 update focuses on reducing CPU load, better battery life

The latest update continues to build on Google’s efforts to make browser more CPU-friendly.


For last couple of years Google has been working on to address one of the long pending issues with its Chrome browser. Despite being the most popular browser in the world, Google’s Chrome has often drawn flak from users for draining memory and battery life of their devices. Just a quick scan on Google search will tell you the issue has gone unresolved for more than three years. Well, it’s never too late. The latest Chrome update promises to finally improve CPU performance and even battery life.

While the update has just started, Google had announced fixing the issue back in September last year. Google on its Chromium Blog explains that the new Chrome version 57 will throttle individual background tabs by limiting the timer fire rate for background tabs using excessive power.

“Like many browsers, Chrome has limited timers in the background to only run once per second. Via the new throttling policy, Chrome 57 will delay timers to limit average CPU load to one percent of a core if an application uses too much CPU in background. Tabs playing audio or maintaining real-time connections like WebSockets or WebRTC won’t be affected.”

Essentially how this works is, each background tab is given a time budget for running processes in the background. After being in the background for 10 seconds, each tab is subject to limits based on how much CPU wall time can be utilized. And here, with the new version 57, Chrome will limit background tabs to using just one percent of a CPU core when a tab runs in the background. RELATED: Google Chrome for Android tests new feature for easy one-handed use

Google Chrome team noticed that this throttling mechanism leads to 25 percent fewer busy background tabs. And as part of its vision for an ideal working of background tabs for a web ecosystem, the team imagines being able to suspend background tabs completely. This will result not only in significant power usage improvements, but also will save memory, which means Chrome will be able to optimize and purge memory knowing that the main thread is suspended and DOM interactions are not possible until page is foregrounded again.

However, Chrome is committed to the web as an application platform and believes that web developers should be able to continue to provide all varieties of user experiences. Some of them require a background tab at the moment, such as playing audio in the background. The work is underway on a set of APIs that developers will be able to use to specify which work needs to be done in the background, similar to what’s possible on Android and iOS. ALSO READ: Beware! The YouTube videos you watch can be tracked

As said earlier, Google has been working on improving Chrome’s efficiency for about a couple of years. Back in 2015 when Google rolled out Chrome v45, the company said it had figured out ways to improve the performance of the browser. The update essentially freed up resources and reduced RAM usage when the user isn’t actively browsing the web.

“In practice we found that this reduced website memory usage by 10 percent on average, but the effect is even more dramatic on complex web apps. With Gmail, for example, we can free up nearly a quarter of the memory used by the tab,” Google had claimed.

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  • Published Date: March 16, 2017 5:15 PM IST