Chrome to increase battery life by throttling background JavaScript timers

Google has lately been testing a new Chrome feature meant to reduce the browser’s power draw. An overview of the feature as well as a document detailing specifics and testing of the feature have been made public. Additionally, the feature has rolled out to the Canary version of Chrome and can be enabled by visiting chrome://flags/#intensive-wake-up-throttling.

The feature targets JavaScript timers. The development team “found that the work done from these Javascript timers was often not valuable to the user when the page was backgrounded (e.g. checking if scroll position changed, reporting logs, analyzing interactions with ads).” The new feature significantly reduces the number of wake ups caused by JavaScript timers in background tabs. Under normal circumstances, background pages are allowed one wake up per second. With the new feature enabled, pages that have been backgrounded for over five minutes will be limited to one wake up per minute.

Throttling JavaScript timers in this way seems to reduce battery usage without breaking background “applications that rely on WebSockets or long polls to receive messages or updates.” As can be seen in the graph and table above, enabling the feature resulted in a median increase in battery life of almost two hours in a basic endurance test with thirty-six background tabs. That’s a notable increase in battery life, although Safari still outstripped Chrome in the endurance test. Google is still testing the JavaScript timer throttling feature, but hopefully we’ll see it public builds of Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers soon.

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Nathan Wasson

Inquiring mind, tech journalist, car enthusiast, gamer.

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Adnan
Adnan
2 years ago
Reply to  Adnan

Dang, the strikeout doesn’t work.

Adnan
Adnan
2 years ago

Throttling JavaScript timers in this way seems to reduce battery life usage without breaking background “applications that rely on WebSockets or long polls to receive messages or updates.”

chuckula
chuckula
2 years ago

Ah yes, Javascript… the cause of and solution to all of the web’s problems.

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