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Chrome 57 starts throttling background tabs to increase power efficiency

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With Chrome being the most widely used web browser, Google lays immense focus on efficient power usage by the same. And regular users can definitely vouch for the memory-intensive nature of the browser that leads to reduced battery life. But, the tech behemoth is adamant about making its offering more favorable for internet users. Thus, it has now kicked off its plan to reduce background power usage with the latest Chrome 57 release on desktops.

In an official Chromium blog post, Alexander Timin, a software engineer at Google states that they’ve been continuously working to reduce the browser’s power consumption. Chrome has been throttling tab performance for several years, but it is still recognized as the memory hog by most users. So, Google making is another change — to an invisible core component — in the browser to make the same even lighter for your PC, Mac or laptop.

This invisible component — background tabs are said to be responsible for one-third (1/3rd) of Chrome’s power consumption on the desktop. And the company has instructed developers to keep background tasks to a minimum unless it is absolutely necessary to use the same to provide certain functionality to the user. But, it is now taking up the task of clearing extra CPU usage with Chrome’s Page visibility API.

This API enables the browser to keep a check on background tabs, making rounds every 10 seconds. Using this, Chrome will throttle tabs it considers are unnecessarily hogging memory in the background by limiting the JavaScript timers. This means Chrome 57 will now suspend those websites, such as news and social media ones, which refresh periodically. The update will, however, not affect the tabs playing audio or using WebRTC connections as they’re considered to be in the foreground.

Talking about the update, Alexander continues to add,

Via the new throttling policy, Chrome 57 will delay timers to limit average CPU load to 1% of a core if an application uses too much CPU in background. Tabs playing audio or maintaining real-time connection like WebSockets or WebRTC won’t be affected.

As for the results of this change in background mechanism of Chrome, the blog post says that it will reduce CPU usage by as much as 75 percent. This means you’ll now have to worry about 25 percent fewer background tabs that are hogging your memory as well as power consumption. But, the end goal of the Chrome team is to completely suspend background tabs and rely on new APIs to hold ground in the background. The latest update is now available for download on all desktop computers — Linux, Windows and MacOS.

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