Chrome 57 saves power and CPU cycles by throttling background tabs


— 11:30 AM on March 15, 2017

When we wrote about Chrome 56 about six weeks ago, we mentioned that Google was working on aggressively throttling background tabs in order to reduce CPU utilization and power consumption. The company's developers must feel like they've ironed out the kinks, because Chrome 57's headlinining feaure is its ability to "limit average CPU load to 1% of a core if an application uses too much CPU in background." The feature is a big enough deal it warrants its own page on the Chrome blog. The release notes for Chrome 57 don't even mention the new throttling policy, focusing instead on support for new features like CSS Grid Layout and Media Session API.

Chromium developer Alexander Timin notes that the background throttling is bypassed for tabs that play audio or maintain real-time connections like WebSockets or WebRTC. We fully expect writers of intrusive scripts to begin abusing this policy any moment now. Despite the self-imposed limitations on throttling, Timins says the changes lead to "25% fewer busy background tabs." Desktop users get the satisfaction of knowing their precious CPU cycles aren't being wasted, but the changes could lead to tangible increases in battery life for Chrome users on laptops and other mobile devices. 

The CSS grid layout capabilities are intended to let web developers create two-dimensional grid-based page layouts more easily. Interested readers can check out a blog post dedicated solely to that feature. The Media Session API allows mobile web application developers to integrate multimedia content directly into a device's UI, and do things like adding playback controls to the Android notifications panel.

Google's Chrome 57 developer page also mentions smaller changes like the ability to change the color of the input cursor in text boxes. Meanwhile, the Chromium blog has even more information about the new release. Gerbils who've read enough and just want to update can click here to download Chrome 57.

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