Google is experimenting with new battery-saving features for the Chromebook

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Google’s Chrome browser has always been a notorious RAM hog. There are countless benefits to reducing resource costs, and Google’s engineers claim to have reduced the overall footprint of the browser. This can be very useful for the company’s Chromebook. In a new blog post, the company discusses a bizarre strategy it is testing in Chrome to reduce CPU activity for improved battery life. Although the blog discusses its behavior on Chromebooks, it is expected to be available to any Chrome user if it is successful in the long run.

What Google is doing is testing a new way to deal with hidden tabs. These are tabs in the browser that are not visible to the user. If you’re like us, it could be between 20-40 tabs (at least) patiently sitting. Currently, Google allows those tabs to sit for five minutes before dropping the JavaScript throttle. After five minutes, it checks the tabs every minute. This ensures that it is ready for users to see when they get close to it. This is called Intense Wake Up Throttling and is originally shipped to Chrome 86.

Experimental features are seen here in Chrome 105. (Image: About Chromebook)

The website Aboutchromebooks has noticed a change in Chrome OS 105 though. This is a Dave Channel build, so it’s time to test new features. In this version of the OS, Chrome’s five-minute timer has been changed to a 10-second timer. This will allow JavaScript to run for five minutes on any hidden tab before throttling. As you can imagine if you have a lot of hidden tabs it can dramatically affect battery life. Documentation explains the reason for the change. It notes, “tHe was chosen to allow the 5 minute timeout to be extremely conservative and allow for the introduction of intensive wake up throttling with minimal regression risk. So now we’re considering reducing the timeout to 10 seconds, only for those pages that are loaded when they are hidden.Fast intensive timer throttling of loaded background pages. “

The document further states that it has so far tested positive. “It is expected to extend battery life. A test in the Canary and Dave channels revealed no regression in our guiding metrics and a significant improvement (~ 10%) in CPU time when all tabs are hidden and silent. “A 10 percent reduction in overall CPU time is the same as a 10 percent improvement in battery life. Not a thing – any lifetime improvement would be a fraction of that amount.

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