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Chrome 57 Throttles Background Tabs To Save Power

Chrome has long been criticized for using too much power and draining notebook battery life, but Google has been taking some steps lately to improve the browser's efficiency. The latest includes limiting background tabs to using only 1% of the CPU’s performance.

Chrome’s High Power Usage

Both Apple and Microsoft have taken advantage of the fact that Chrome isn’t that efficient in terms of power usage. This may not have put too much of a dent on Chrome’s growing market share, but it did negatively impact its image. It seems Google has taken notice of that, and over the past few months, the Chrome team has been working on making their browser more efficient.

Right now, according to Google, background tabs represent as much as a third of Chrome’s overall power usage. That’s quite significant for browser tabs that are effectively being unused.

New Background Throttling Policy

The recently released Chrome 57 aims to improve that by limiting the timing fire rate for individual background tabs that use excessive amounts of power. Chrome, like other browsers, 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 loads to 1% of a core, if an application uses too much CPU in the background. Tabs that play audio or are maintaining real-time connections such as WebSockets or WebRTC will not be affected. Google found that the new throttling policy can lead to 25% fewer busy background tabs.

Background Tab Suspension Roadmap

Chrome’s background suspension roadmap also shows that it will also start throttling loading tasks later this year, without any disruptions to the user experience.

In 2018, Chrome should be able to fully suspend background tabs, unless developers explicitly opt out of this feature. However, around 2020, Chrome will also remove the opt-out mechanism, so all background tabs will be suspended if they’ve remained unused for a few minutes.

A similar policy of complete suspension for the mobile version of Chrome will be enabled later this year, as on mobile, restricting power use is much more important than on the desktop.

  • Jeff Fx
    Sweet. This won't matter much on my desktop, but should be a big improvement on my crappy Win 10 tablet.
    Reply
  • anbello262
    Is this optional? Can this setting be disabled?
    Reply
  • drajitsh
    I would like to disable this, specially on my phone, because in slow connections I often read one tab while loading others in the background.
    Reply
  • Paul Kan
    Hope the background tab release the memory as well.
    Reply
  • RomeoReject
    Tabs that have audio or video playing won't be affected? No. Affect them. Those god damned ads that fire up on mystery tabs when browsing are THE WORST. Anything that buggers them up is a good thing.
    Reply
  • anbello262
    19431281 said:
    Tabs that have audio or video playing won't be affected? No. Affect them. Those god damned ads that fire up on mystery tabs when browsing are THE WORST. Anything that buggers them up is a good thing.

    But what about playing youtube for music on background tabs?

    (I believe that auto playing video/sound ads are a different beast that should be killed to extinction altogether)
    Reply
  • RomeoReject
    19431737 said:
    19431281 said:
    Tabs that have audio or video playing won't be affected? No. Affect them. Those god damned ads that fire up on mystery tabs when browsing are THE WORST. Anything that buggers them up is a good thing.

    But what about playing youtube for music on background tabs?

    (I believe that auto playing video/sound ads are a different beast that should be killed to extinction altogether)
    Fair enough, forgot about those.

    You're right about the audio/video ads though. If your ad pisses me off, I can promise you I will actively avoid purchasing it, companies. This is a very simple concept.
    Reply