Chrome 87 Tamps Down Browser Tabs’ CPU Usage, Promises PC Battery Life Boost-news

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The newest version of Chrome can now last up to 1.25 hours longer on a laptop, thanks to Google throttling the browser’s CPU usage. 

On Tuesday, the company released Chrome 87, which Google says “represents the largest gain in Chrome performance in years,” due to various improvements made under the hood. 

One of those changes is minimizing the CPU usage from having numerous tabs open. The company discovered the background tabs can draw a significant amount of power via JavaScript timers, which can constantly execute computer code. 

“Even if you have a lot of tabs open, you likely only focus on a small set of them to get a task done,” Chrome Product Manager Mark Chang wrote in a blog post. To prevent the browser from draining unnecessary battery energy, Chrome 87 will prioritize CPU usage toward the active tabs and browser windows you currently have open. Meanwhile, background tabs that’ve been hidden from view for at least five minutes will draw less CPU power. 

Specifically, Chrome will only activate the JavaScript timers on these background tabs once every 60 seconds. “This reduces CPU usage by up to 5x, and extends battery life up to 1.25 hours in our internal testing” Chang said. “We’ve done this without sacrificing the background features that users care about, like playing music and getting notifications.” 

Google’s internal test used a 13-inch MacBook Air 2020 model with an Intel Core i3 processor, so the browser’s battery life improvement may vary depending on your computer. 

Another improvement to Chrome involves adding “Occlusion Tracking,” which allows the software to figure out which browser tabs and windows are actually viewable to you on a computer’s desktop. “With this information, Chrome can optimize resources for the tabs you are using, not the ones you’ve minimized, making Chrome up to 25 percent faster to start up and 7 percent faster to load pages, all while using less memory,” Chang said. 

For those who end up opening dozens of tabs on Chrome, the new release adds a tab search function. “You’ll now be able to see a list of your open tabs—regardless of the window they’re in—then quickly type to find the one you need,” Google Chrome Product Director Matt Waddell said. “The feature is coming first to Chromebooks, then to other desktop platforms soon.”

On the smartphone side, Chrome 87 has added a new “back/forward cache,” so you can instantly go back or forward between web pages you just opened. “How many times have you visited a website and clicked a link to go to another page, only to realize it’s not what you wanted and click the back button? On mobile devices, this happens a lot: 1 in 5 navigations are a back/forward navigation,” Chang said. 

When you do click the back button, Chrome will have to load the page again, creating a short delay. But Google has created a way to make the transition instantaneous by adding the new back/forward cache. “In Chrome 87, our back/forward cache will make 20 percent of those back/forward navigations instant, with plans to increase this to 50 percent through further improvements and developer outreach in the near future,” he added. 

The company will gradually incorporate the back/forward cache feature on Chrome 87, first for Android users. Chrome 87 should arrive automatically, but you can also update manually.

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