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March 16, 2017

Chrome 57 update gags power hungry browser tabs

A new throttling mechanism will save user battery life by limiting busy background tabs.

By Joe Clark

Google has announced that the latest version of Google Chrome will help to solve the problem of busy background tabs consuming battery life.

Chrome 57, is the newest version of the Google developed browser, is designed to hamper the power hungry platform from voraciously devouring energy with the use of a throttling mechanism.

Google said that this throttling mechanism will limit the average CPU load to 1% of a core if an application is using too much of a devices CPU in the background. By placing additional timer fire rate limits on background tabs that are using excessive power, the browser will potentially consume far less battery

Alexander Timin, Software Engineer and self-proclaimed ‘Power Saver’ at Google, said : “Efficient power usage is an important aspect of speed, one of Chrome’s key pillars. To prolong battery life, Chrome should minimise power impact from things users can’t see. This includes background tabs,  which consume a third of Chrome’s power usage on desktop. Starting in version 57, Chrome will throttle individual background tabs by limiting the timer fire rate for background tabs using excessive power.”

“We’ve found that this throttling mechanism leads to 25% fewer busy background tabs.”

This new feature will check tabs in the background every 10 seconds whilst tabs which are playing audio, or running WebSockets or WebRTC connections will be left alone. The Chrome Page Visibility app will consider these functions as running in the foreground in order to leave them unhindered.

READ MORE: Best web browsers for security

The Chromium team announced that changes were coming to the browser with regard to how much power its background uses back in September of last year. The changes, however, have come much sooner than anticipated.

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Google also spoke of its slightly more ambitious goals of eliminating the problem entirely by 2020, by having background tabs automatically suspend themselves from action.

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