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."

Comments closed
    • squeeb
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]new, shinier Chrome.[/quote<] love it

    • BoilerGamer
    • 5 years ago

    Chrome 47 dev version here. You stable channel peasants feel free to enjoy what I had 2 month ago.

      • End User
      • 5 years ago

      You mean Chrome Canary? Anybody can download it:

      [url<]https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/canary.html[/url<]

    • Welch
    • 5 years ago

    “Chrome 45.. and two zig zags… baby that’s all we need!”

    • DarkMikaru
    • 5 years ago

    Bout time. Quite a while ago I noticed that out of the big 4 browsers IE11 was the only one that didn’t crank up the fan / CPU usage on my HP Laptop. I’m mostly a Firefox, Chrome, Opera users depending on what I’m doing (some extensions work better than others in various browsers).

    So I sucked up my pride and mostly used IE for laptop & chrome for everything else. Interested to see if this works.

    • floodo1
    • 5 years ago

    one day chrome might finally do what firefox does

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      Or IE11…

    • Meadows
    • 5 years ago

    Easy to improve that which is so badly broken.

    • SnowboardingTobi
    • 5 years ago

    With this new version of Chrome, I’ve had the weird issue of it actually being unresponsive for a few seconds if I try to switch tabs or attempt to start typing something in an input box. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s been more than a one-off type issue. And I’ve got minimal tabs open too – gmail, maybe youtube, and whatever website i may be reading.

      • Nevermind
      • 5 years ago

      I know what you’re describing.

    • xeridea
    • 5 years ago

    I recently started using TabSuspender to reduce RAM and CPU usage. If a tab has been inactive for a while (configurable delay), it compresses the tabs memory and suspends it. This reduces inactive tab memory usage by about 80%, and saves CPU. When you go to tab it un-suspends it quickly. I used another one that would basically kill tab and reload when you go back but I like suspending better as it keeps the tabs working state.

    [url<]https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tab-suspender/fiabciakcmgepblmdkmemdbbkilneeeh?hl=en[/url<]

      • jurc11
      • 5 years ago

      I use The Great Suspender, which is basically the same thing.

      I usually have 4 Chromes open, with 20 to 40 tabs. Works really well. Takes a few gigs of RAM instead of too-many-gigs, irrespective of how much RAM you have.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      Do you know of anything like that for FireFox? Searching in the add-ons for FF was not fruitful.

      Edited:

      Let me answer my own question:
      [url<]https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/suspend-tab/[/url<] Now, the question remains, WTF did this not come back as a search results when I searched for "tab suspend". Seriously, Firefox? Thanks Google!

        • willmore
        • 5 years ago

        I’m not convinced that it actually works, yet. 🙁

          • willmore
          • 5 years ago

          Well, it slept the tabs, but they don’t reload when you go back to them later, you have to manually refresh them. That’s a bit of a pain. The odd thing is they look like they’re reloading, but they don’t actually render unless you manually refresh them.

        • ET3D
        • 5 years ago

        I’m using Firefox with the default tab handling, which keeps old tabs unloaded when Firefox starts. (I actually don’t see any way to control this in the current options page.) I occasionally restart FF (mainly because it slows down) and that puts all the tabs back to sleep.

        I typically have a few hundred tabs open, and FF rarely goes much over 1GB of RAM usage.

        I used to use an extension that suspended tabs, but it stopped working when FF got its own suspend on start functionality, and I haven’t used one since.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 5 years ago

    And meanwhile Pearson’s and McGraw-Hill’s Flash-only online homework and e-text continues to run my laptop’s CPU to 25% load at times.

    • wingless
    • 5 years ago

    Some bug with the interaction of Chrome and Windows 10 64bit has been killing my system. It eats memory and locks constantly. In a perfect world, Chrome 45 will remedy these issues in Win10.

      • cygnus1
      • 5 years ago

      Chrome 64 bit doesn’t even work on the latest insider build of Win10. Something MS changed conflicts with Chrome sandboxing and so the browser can’t render anything. Can’t even render it’s own internal config pages. You have to launch it with the “–no-sandbox” switch to get it to do anything. I’ll be finding out when I get home if this Chrome build fixes it.

        • cygnus1
        • 5 years ago

        It was in the shortbread the other day, but here’s some reference links.

        [url<]http://betanews.com/2015/08/19/windows-10-build-10525-breaks-chrome-heres-how-to-fix-it/[/url<] [url<]http://www.computerworld.com/article/2973455/web-browsers/latest-windows-10-preview-cripples-64-bit-chrome.html[/url<]

    • nico1982
    • 5 years ago

    If true, a step in the right direction.

    I got back at least 2-3 hours of battery life on the macbook once I ditched Chrome, that was sitting “idle” off-screen most of the time.

      • wimpishsundew
      • 5 years ago

      Yeah, the only time I use Chrome on the Macbook is when Safari doesn’t work properly on some sites. Else, Chrome has to be completely shut down or your battery life plunges.

      Hell, even Firefox suck significantly more juice than Safari.

        • Milo Burke
        • 5 years ago

        Interesting. Are Chrome and Firefox up till this point just inefficiently designed (comparatively)? Or is it that they haven’t received much attention on Mac?

          • Ninjitsu
          • 5 years ago

          I’d assume either Apple has some secret sauce in Safari that it doesn’t expose to Chrome and FF, or that Google and Mozilla aren’t following some guidelines on Mac OS. Or the Mac receives an un-optimized (for Mac) PC port.

          • wimpishsundew
          • 5 years ago

          they are just inefficient compared to Safari. The latest major update Safari had increased its energy efficiency by quite a bit along with stability and the much needed compatibility. I noticed about 1.5 hours ago in web surfing. Safari has some features that Chrome and Firefox will adopt in the future like:

          1. Automatic video pause by default
          2. A lot of flash ads/videos won’t even load until you click on it

          I also heard Safari has more access to the OS than they allow Chrome and Firefox to have. But that’s not something I can observe from using the browser.

          • Timbrelaine
          • 5 years ago

          Chrome and Firefox run on many different platforms and a huge range of hardware, but Safari runs only on OS X and iOS, which they probably understand better and have more access to, so it would be strange if it wasn’t better optimized. But battery life is also a much higher priority for Safari than, say, security, performance, or support for modern web standards.

          Battery life is easily quantified and noticeable in every day use, and Apple has made it a priority of their platform and marketing for years. As long as it sells phones/laptops, I’d expect Safari to remain the battery life champion on iOS/OS X.

          • davidbowser
          • 5 years ago

          I use both and I think they have both been designed for flexibility and “speed”, even when speed was at the cost of efficiency (CPU GHz wars ring a bell?).

          Mozilla has committed to the same types of changes to bring back the efficiency, but I will say that their RAM hogging ways get INSANE when flash is used (which is pretty much all the time). On Windows 7, using Process Explorer instead of Task Manager, I will see the flash plug-in sub-process running with nearly a gigabyte of RAM all by itself. I sometimes to leave my browser open but minimized for days at a time and threw multiple computer sleep cycles, and the RAM usage just never seems to drop, only grow.

          • Andrew Lauritzen
          • 5 years ago

          Google/Chrome in particular make some very questionable decisions for political reasons that impact the battery life and efficiency for end users. Most notably they will stream VP8/VP9 content to Chrome in YouTube which is not hardware accelerated on many machines, so it gets decoded partially/entirely on the CPU. h.264 of course is decoded efficiently on almost all hardware and it’s what you’ll get in other browsers, but… I dunno, politics > millions of hours of battery loss and wasted power across the world or something.

          Suffice it to say if you want a good experience on laptops and other battery-powered devices, use the native browser (Safari/IE/Edge or whatever). I continue to use Chrome on my desktops but it’s unusable on mobile stuff these days.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 5 years ago

            Isn’t the VP vs h26 codec about paying money?

            Of course, I think it would be against the Mozilla license agreement to include closed source codecs as well. Google has no such problem itself.

          • sweatshopking
          • 5 years ago

          first off, where have you been, and we missed you on the podcast.
          second, chrome has an issue where it doesn’t play nicely with timing. this issue, afaik, still isn’t resolved. it wasn’t resolved recently.
          [url<]http://www.theverge.com/2014/7/18/5914975/google-chrome-windows-laptop-battery-drain-fix[/url<] it makes chrome more responsive, but trashes battery life. it was also a problem on *nix as well.

            • Milo Burke
            • 5 years ago

            I was visiting my sister in Honduras.

            I planned my trip around having the most stable internet for Thursday, and it was flawless there right up until the day of the podcast when it dropped entirely, haha.

            • ray890
            • 5 years ago

            Actually a fix to that specific problem has made it to the public like since November 2014. I’ve tested it out and confirmed it to be working, however I’ve noticed some non-multimedia websites cause chrome to request a timer raise for no apparent reason. I’ve brought it up with the Chromium team, and they are now aware of the problem, the cause of it is unknown.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 5 years ago

      Ouch. That’s no fun. I’m glad you at least figured out what caused the issue.

      • tipoo
      • 5 years ago

      The new build seems to be working as advertised, I have 15 tabs open and it’s reporting the same battery life as Safari would, when before it would often report 2 hours lower.

      I would be a safari user, but I still have weird networking issues with it, where pressing enter to search something may not work on the first or second try, or pages will just not load. I can’t figure that out, nuked all the preferences, tried without extensions, and it’s on El Capitan so I ditched DiscoveryD.

      • travbrad
      • 5 years ago

      Were you allowing flash in Chrome?

      If I enable flash in Chrome a lot of sites will not let my Intel Speedstep kick in so instead of running at 1.6ghz and lower voltage when idle my CPU was at 4.5ghz and a higher voltage…for an idle web browser. Flash is a performance, power, and security disaster.

      • End User
      • 5 years ago

      Chrome Canary has an Avg Energy Impact 6x more than Safari on my rMB. Safari is currently running more tabs.

    • ronch
    • 5 years ago

    I primarily use Chrome on my PCs as well as my Android. The PC port is pretty good. It’s fast, reliable, displays pages properly, doesn’t crash, etc. The Android port is kinda crappy on my Samsung Tab 3 Lite. Crashes, keyboard input going nuts all too often, etc. My Android devices received the v45 update today. Hope Google has fixed whatever needed fixing.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 5 years ago

    I have not been running Flash for a while now and I do not regret it. I run FireFox with NoScript (not on TR, of course), and Chrome with click-to-play for ALL plugins when I may need flash (or like a certain site). It saves power, reduces resource usage, and, my biggest reason, I don’t get droppers from malvertisements.

    EDIT: I also uninstalled IE.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      Not a bad idea. I use three different profiles with Firefox. One for Google apps–but not search. One for FaceBook–they don’t need to know what else I’m doing on the web. And one highly locked down instance for general web surfing. That last one uses the majority of the memory as it’s got a few hundred tabs in it. Firefox is pretty smart about not loading background tabs. Looks like Chrome is starting to catch up on that front.

      • jessterman21
      • 5 years ago

      Yep – switched to Firefox-sans-Flash once they finally supported 60fps YouTube and saved a ton of memory and battery life over Chrome.

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