07/15 Update below. This post was originally published on July 12
While Chrome has had a rocky recent run, an ambitious rival has been quick to capitalize. But now Google has given potential defectors a great reason to stick with its browser.
Google Chrome is about to get a lot faster and more efficient
Having attained internal Google documents TheWindowsClub, has revealed that Chrome is going to become dramatically more power efficient. And it looks set to result in hours of additional battery life for laptop and smartphone users.
07/14 Update: Google has announced it will be making further battery saving improvements to the Chrome browser. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Max Christoff, director of Chrome browser engineering, revealed that Google is now actively focused on making the browser less power hungry with three new initiatives. These are tab throttling (detailed below) which he states will have a "dramatic impact on battery and performance", reducing the power drain of ads and new optimization changes to the core of the browser. Interestingly, Christoff spoke to the WSJ as part of a highly critical editorial from the site which attacked the performance of the browser in comparison to rivals - something I have discussed recently. If Chrome is to retain its overwhelming lead in the browser market, Google now needs to follow through on these initiatives.
07/15 Update: worrying news for Chrome users after TechDows spotted that Google has announceda U-turn over its support for 'Segment Heap’, a potentially major breakthrough for memory consumption by Chromium browsers in Windows 10. "Disable the segment heap by default and add a GN flag to control it," the company commented. "There’s some concern that the cost of the Segment heap doesn’t justify its cost (see crbug.com/1102281). This CL disable it by default and put this feature behind a GN flag to let us keep experimenting with it." Segment Heap creator Microsoft had tried to defend the technology, saying "More often it’s increased memory usage for reduced CPU usage. In this case it’s increased CPU usage for dramatically reduced memory usage" but Google hasn't bought into the trade-off. This is bad news for millions of Chrome users on Windows 10 because it was seen as the best way for Chrome to reduce its infamous RAM consumption on the platform. Google has not given up on Segment Heap completely, but it looks like we will all be waiting a lot longer than expected for Chrome to become more memory efficient on Windows 10.
While Chromium based browsers will receive the same functionality, the key for Google is to keep Chrome itself as lean as possible, given the rise of more privacy focused and ad hostile Chromium browsers like Brave and Vivaldi.
Interestingly. Microsoft recently gave Chrome a helping hand here with its new ‘Segment Heap’ memory optimization software, introduced in the Windows 10 May 2020 update. Early tests show this could reduce Chrome’s infamous memory consumption by up to a third. In return, Google has piled the pressure on Windows by announcing its ambitious plan to run Windows programs (including Office) natively on Chrome OS.
The browser wars are back.