Chrome 45 eats less, runs faster, saves energy

Chrome version 45 is out the door, and you could say it's found a new focus in life. It's ditching its old ways of gobbling up as much RAM as it can. Instead, it's doing its best to shed weight and save energy.

To fulfill these goals, Chrome developers have taken three steps. First, the browser's JavaScript garbage collection has gotten some aggressive tuning. Chrome will detect and take advantage of idle processing time in a webpage to clear previously-used memory, all while actually improving responsiveness. The Google team says per-site RAM usage drops by 10% on average with this improvement, and complex web pages can get even better mileage. Gmail is one example of such a page: RAM usage drops by as much as a quarter in this new, shinier Chrome.

For users that have the "continue where you left off" option turned on, the Chrome devs have made some changes to how tabs are restored, as well. In prior versions, opening Chrome meant it would fully reload every tab, quickly expanding its memory footprint. The new version selectively loads the tabs from most to least recently used, and it'll even be careful not to load them all if the host system is running out of RAM.

Finally, there are improvements in power usage, which should make mobile users particularly happy. Google claims the recently-introduced automatic pausing of Flash content can improve battery life by as much as 15%, and will be turning on this feature for all users "over the next few weeks."

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