Latest Chrome update throttles tabs for better performance

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Google Chrome is getting a new performance update.

Google Chrome is known for being a resource-hungry program. In fact, it’s even become a meme in recent years thanks to its appetite for RAM. Users should have less to worry about moving forward thanks to the latest Chrome update.

Dubbed Chrome 87, the new version brings a number of performance enhancements and speed improvements to the world’s most popular web browser. Part of this is thanks to tab throttling, which will determine which tabs users need most and which ones aren’t as important.

Chrome product manager Mark Chang said in a recent blog post, “Starting in this release, Chrome is actively managing your computer’s resources to make the tabs you care about fast—while allowing you to keep hundreds of tabs open—so you can pick up where you left off.”

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Better Browser

Although Chrome 87 is the last scheduled update for the browser in 2020, Google is ending the year on an impressive note. Users should find that their browsing experience is noticeably better once they download the latest update.

As mentioned, tab throttling is a big reason why. Google promises that it will deliver “significant improvements by preventing background tabs from waking up your CPU too often, and no longer rendering tabs you can’t see.”

Users familiar with third-party apps like The Great Suspender know that this can really help the browser’s performance. Google’s testing found that background JavaScript timers account for about 40 percent of an unused tab’s memory load. Limiting how often those tabs wake-up to just once per minute drastically cuts back on the CPU’s workload. In turn, it also improves battery life.

Windows users will also get the benefit of occlusion tracking. The feature has been available for Chrome OS and Mac users but will now make the jump to PCs. In essence, it allows Chrome to determine which tabs are visible to the user. This means it can allocate more resources to those tabs and less to ones that aren’t in use.

Aside from improving performance, Google notes that occlusion tracking helps Chrome start-up and load new webpages more quickly. Despite the improvements, it uses less memory than ever.

Upgraded Caching

Chrome 87 is also getting an upgrade to its bfcache (back/forward cache) feature. This lets Chrome temporarily store a complete copy of each page you visit as you browse. Then, if you hit the back button, the previous page can load instantly.

Google notes that 20 percent of back and forward navigations in Chrome 87 will be instantaneous. However, it aims to push that marker to 50 percent by working with other developers and through future updates. Meanwhile, Google is rolling out bfcache to all Android users, expanding from its previous trial program.

Philip Walton, a Google Chrome engineer, writes, “Starting in version 86, Chrome has enabled bfcache for cross-site navigations on Android for a small percentage of users. In Chrome 87, bfcache support will be rolled out to all Android users… with the intent to support same-site navigation as well in the near future.”

Users can update their copy of Chrome to version 87 now or download the latest version from Google’s site.

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