Latest Chrome 57 Restricts Background Tabs to 1% CPU Usage

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Chrome users will now get more battery life on their laptops, why? It’s Chrome 57. Google has released the latest version of their famous browser with a few tweaks which help you get more juice out of your laptop battery even with multiple tabs open.

In September of last year, the team Chromium said changes are coming to Chrome’s handling of the background tabs, but these changes have landed in stable branch of Chrome a little sooner than we expected. Basically, from now, all the background tabs will be limited to an average CPU load of only 1 percent on a single core.

The actual mechanism in Chrome 57 for the background tab throttling is more complex. After 10 seconds of being into the background, each tab will get a budget (in seconds) for how much CPU wall time it can have. Here, Wall time is the actual real-world time it takes for a normal process to complete from starting. A background tab is only allowed to use CPU if it has not consumed its entire budget. Here’s the thing: the budget is constantly regenerated, but only at a rate of very small 0.01 seconds per second.

As of now, there are a few caveats, too. Some of the background tabs are exempt from the throttling, this includes the tabs which are playing music and tabs which have a real time connection to the remote server using a WebSockets or a WebRTC. Google also says this regeneration rate can be tweaked as more data is gathered about how these throttled apps behave.

The Chromium team says it is seeing “A 25 percent fewer busy background tabs” with this new throttling mechanism in place. Anecdotally, after updating to Chrome 57 and with about 20 tabs open, my laptop feels a lot more responsive. Switching between tabs feels a little quicker, and there seems to be less input lag when typing or otherwise interacting with the browser.


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