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March 15, 2017

Latest version of Google Chrome makes background tabs less resource hungry

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Google is on a crusade against resource-inefficient background tabs and this change to Chrome will help save your laptop’s battery life.

Google released Chrome 57, the latest iteration of its hugely popular web browser. The new version brings big changes to the way background tabs operate, which will hopefully help laptop users get the most out of their battery life.

Put simply, Chrome will now limit background tabs to an average CPU load of one percent on a single core, according to a report from Ars Technica. However, there is actually a little more nuance to the way the browser will prevent background tabs from utilizing more than their fair share of system resources.

After 10 seconds of being in the background, each individual tab will be limited to a budget of CPU usage, measured in the seconds of real-world time taken to complete a particular process. Tabs are only able to use the CPU if there is time left in its budget, which regenerates at a rate of 0.01 seconds every second.

More: Chrome on iOS will soon receive Safari-like Reading List feature

There are some exceptions, like tabs that are streaming music or video content, and tabs that are maintaining a connection to a remote server. Google also noted that the CPU budget regeneration rate might be increased, depending on feedback to the changes made as of version 57.

This is just one stage of Google’s ongoing effort to make drastic changes to the behavior of background tabs in Chrome. The company hopes to be able to achieve complete background tab suspension by 2020.

As you might expect, Google has another solution in mind to solve the problem of resource-hungry background tabs. It’s pushing a web technology called Service Workers, which aims to enhance the next generation of websites with enhanced functionality, and a better capacity to use system resources economically.

Chrome users can download the new version of the browser by opening the Settings menu and navigating to the About section.

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