Chrome 57 promises to be less power-hungry, throttles JS timers

JC Torres - Mar 15, 2017, 4:45am CDT
Chrome 57 promises to be less power-hungry, throttles JS timers

There recently was a mini browser war between Microsoft and Opera that revolved around power consumption. While the two naturally didn’t see eye to eye on who used up less power, they seem to implicitly agree on who was the worst offender: Google Chrome. Unsurprisingly, Google fired off its own retort but it also admits there’s still work to be done. In version 57 of Chrome, part of that work has been implemented by taking down abusive Javascript timers down a notch.

At the heart of the matter is how web pages behave even when they’re in a background tab. Many sites, particularly news sites and social networks, use Javascript timers to update web page content. While that might be OK in some contexts, some have abused the capability, using up more CPU cycles than needed. This, in turn, uses up more power, which is a death sentence to mobile devices and laptops.

Starting the latest stable release, version 57, Chrome is putting a cap on background tabs. If a Javascript application in a background tab uses up too much CPU, Chrome will throttle it down to using only 1% CPU max. This may result in slower or even not updating content in the background, though those will always be resumed when the user switches to that tab.

Chrome developers boast that this mechanic has resulted in 25% less busy background tabs, which translates to less power consumption. Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule, like tabs that are playing audio or those with real-time communications via WebSockets or WebRTC.

Google’s quest to improve Chrome reputation doesn’t end there. The developers have also shared their goals for the next quarters. For example, by the second quarter, all background timers should be suspended on mobile devices after 5 minutes, regardless of CPU usage. By 2018, all background tabs are to be suspended after a few minutes’ delay, unless a web page opts out of that system. Hopefully that won’t be abused so that we won’t end up in this situation again.

SOURCE: Google
VIA: Bleeping Computer


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