Chrome 57 for Mac throttles background tabs for better CPU use & battery life

Posted:
in Mac Software
The desktop versions of Chrome -- including the Mac edition -- now throttle the performance of background tabs, according to Google, reducing CPU demand and hence the browser's power consumption on MacBooks.




In particular the Chrome 57 update limits the timer fire rate of background tabs deemed to be consuming too much power, the official Chromium blog explains. The tactic is intended to limit average CPU load to 1 percent of a core.

The change should result in 25 percent fewer "busy" background tabs. Crucially, tabs with audio or real-time connections are immune to throttling.

Google notes that through a later update, Chrome will eventually be able to suspend background tabs completely. New APIs will handle tasks that need to continue operating.

The Mac version of Chrome has often faced criticism for being CPU- and RAM-intensive. The browser took a significant step forward with Chrome 55, which drastically improved memory usage.

The iOS version of Chrome has mostly continued along a different development track, since Apple's mobile policies force the browser to use the same WebKit engine found in Safari. Most recently it picked up the Reading List, copying a feature in Safari.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 809member
    I haven't found a modern browser that doesn't use ridiculous amounts of RAM. Programmers simply aren't concerned about resource utilization anymore. They would have all received failing grades in my computing courses 30 years ago. It's like a "hello world" program needs 10 MB of disk space and uses 50 MB of RAM now.
    StrangeDaysbdkennedy1002watto_cobrarcfaGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 17
    The problem with tabs is the as before: I do not need them. I have suffiently large monitor and prefer to see windows side by side. One window design is not for all devices (not for PC) and can be inefficient in commercial work (nobody switches between tabs while comparing information - we hav task bars and docks for that). It also disrupts order of "main windows" (appplication window) management. Old good days Z-order burns in hell and user needs to figure out why I need to bring all irrelevant windows and tabs to front while we need one tab on top of window from another application or data in two windows instead of tabs side by side.
    I hope this fashion will die when people mature.
    rcfa
  • Reply 3 of 17
    linkman said:
    I haven't found a modern browser that doesn't use ridiculous amounts of RAM. Programmers simply aren't concerned about resource utilization anymore. They would have all received failing grades in my computing courses 30 years ago. It's like a "hello world" program needs 10 MB of disk space and uses 50 MB of RAM now.
    True, but to some level. Google uses processes behind windows and tabs while other browsers use threads in the same process. Isolation is better, but resources are not shared - replicas are used probably. This reason i dumped Chrome in personal use and sticjktto Firefox/SeaMonkey that are way more lightweight in use of resources. Chrome is simply killer and annoys me with some dumb messages (long processing javascript - do not to take resources from system so it could process faster in the first place). So it is more architecture. As far as system swamping with some obejcts and counting on garbage collections and system reaction is also not the best idea. You run into system thrashing problems... but young kids do not get it. Some of them already have PhD in CS and know this problems, but they ignore them.
  • Reply 4 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,100member
    The problem with tabs is the as before: I do not need them. I have suffiently large monitor and prefer to see windows side by side. One window design is not for all devices (not for PC) and can be inefficient in commercial work (nobody switches between tabs while comparing information - we hav task bars and docks for that). It also disrupts order of "main windows" (appplication window) management. Old good days Z-order burns in hell and user needs to figure out why I need to bring all irrelevant windows and tabs to front while we need one tab on top of window from another application or data in two windows instead of tabs side by side.
    I hope this fashion will die when people mature.
    i will never give up using tabs on my 27" display. To me setting background tabs are for things i want to read in the short term but not right now. i don't want 15 windows spawned, which would gum up my desktop/workflow. 
    macxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    kkerstkkerst Posts: 330member
    I think part of the reason people love tabs so much is because they exist. I know from my workflow, occasionally I'll find a website with good info. I'll leave it in a open tab for later reference. That's a colossal waste of resources. I guess I could save it offline; Using a browser instead of a notes app, or something else for the same thing, is wasteful but effective.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    wmforkwmfork Posts: 16member
    linkman said:
    I haven't found a modern browser that doesn't use ridiculous amounts of RAM. Programmers simply aren't concerned about resource utilization anymore. They would have all received failing grades in my computing courses 30 years ago. It's like a "hello world" program needs 10 MB of disk space and uses 50 MB of RAM now.
    That's simply a change of cost structure: hardware resource has gotten way cheaper while human resource hasn't. It doesn't make economic sense to optimize assembly code most of the time.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 204member
    I don't know about all that, I still have 8 different Google Chrome Helpers eating up resources CPU and mostly memory!
  • Reply 8 of 17
    linkman said:
    I haven't found a modern browser that doesn't use ridiculous amounts of RAM. Programmers simply aren't concerned about resource utilization anymore. They would have all received failing grades in my computing courses 30 years ago. It's like a "hello world" program needs 10 MB of disk space and uses 50 MB of RAM now.
    The solution 

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspender/klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg?hl=en
  • Reply 9 of 17
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 809member
    wmfork said:
    linkman said:
    I haven't found a modern browser that doesn't use ridiculous amounts of RAM. Programmers simply aren't concerned about resource utilization anymore. They would have all received failing grades in my computing courses 30 years ago. It's like a "hello world" program needs 10 MB of disk space and uses 50 MB of RAM now.
    That's simply a change of cost structure: hardware resource has gotten way cheaper while human resource hasn't. It doesn't make economic sense to optimize assembly code most of the time.
    If they were programming for only a few hundred installs I could understand that. But if you take Safari, Chrome, or Internet Explorer/Edge with literally hundreds of millions of installs saving $100000 by not optimizing has cost consumers billions of dollars in needing to purchase extra RAM or upgrade prematurely.

    I have rarely worked in machine code but I have come up with some programs and routines in COBOL and some weird stuff that are 100x as efficient as some of the garbage I have run across today. Most coders don't come near assembler but should be able to come up with much better C#, Java, Swift, etc. than they do right now.
  • Reply 10 of 17
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,595member
    I currently have Firefox running with two windows open - 8 tabs in one and 15 in another.
    Then I have Safari open with four windows - 14 tabs, 1 tab, 5 tabs and 12 tabs respectively.
    Sometimes my wife needs Chrome open for her three work logins so there's tons of windows and tabs open there too.

    I don't work so this is not a workflow thing. It's just how I use my computer.
  • Reply 11 of 17

    I think tabs are pretty convenient. For example, I open up all the stories I haven't read on AI on multiple tabs.

    When it comes to Finder tabs though, I prefer multiple windows for some reason. Maybe I still haven't gotten used to them.

    JanNLStrangeDays
  • Reply 12 of 17
    rcfarcfa Posts: 698member
    kkerst said:
    I think part of the reason people love tabs so much is because they exist. I know from my workflow, occasionally I'll find a website with good info. I'll leave it in a open tab for later reference. That's a colossal waste of resources. I guess I could save it offline; Using a browser instead of a notes app, or something else for the same thing, is wasteful but effective.
    It shouldn't be wasteful, if browsers were programmed properly, a window that's not in focus should simply be suspended
  • Reply 13 of 17
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 233member

    I think tabs are pretty convenient. For example, I open up all the stories I haven't read on AI on multiple tabs.

    When it comes to Finder tabs though, I prefer multiple windows for some reason. Maybe I still haven't gotten used to them.

    Exactly same here  :)
  • Reply 14 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,100member
    kkerst said:
    I think part of the reason people love tabs so much is because they exist. I know from my workflow, occasionally I'll find a website with good info. I'll leave it in a open tab for later reference. That's a colossal waste of resources. I guess I could save it offline; Using a browser instead of a notes app, or something else for the same thing, is wasteful but effective.
    One of the things Apple engineers touted in macOS is the diminished computation resources in background tabs or Safari windows not visible.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    Chrome OS is a dog of a browser. Purging the program from my iPhone was the best thing I ever did. I paid for iCab and the browser makes Chrome look pathetic in comparison. I do like Safari and use it all the time along with Firefox. 

    Google now tries to belatedly fix the problem? No thanks. Even on Windows Chrome OS provides a terrible experience. IE is much better even if it is a poor experience also. My work allows only the use of IE or Chrome. If I have to use Chrome due to compatibility issues, I will close it immediately once the task is finished. Chrome can bring an 8 core Xeon machine with 32 GB of RAM to its knees after only a few hours. There's no excuse for that. 
  • Reply 16 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,172moderator
    linkman said:
    I haven't found a modern browser that doesn't use ridiculous amounts of RAM. Programmers simply aren't concerned about resource utilization anymore. They would have all received failing grades in my computing courses 30 years ago. It's like a "hello world" program needs 10 MB of disk space and uses 50 MB of RAM now.
    There isn't the same effort being put in to manage memory usage but the amount of code has increased a lot rather than just the same code being written worse:

    https://www.openhub.net/p/chrome/analyses/latest/languages_summary
    https://www.openhub.net/p/firefox/analyses/latest/languages_summary

    That's 5-10x the amount of code over the last few years. The memory tools on the Mac give some idea what's going on. In Activity Monitor, get the browser/tab process id (pid) and in terminal type:

    heap -showSizes -guessNonObjects -sumObjectFields process_id_number

    where process_id_number would be replaced with the number. They have all sorts of allocations going on. Modern websites have more media content than before, the tabs are split out and don't all share resources for stability, they have HTML5 content, fonts, CSS, Javascript, higher resolution images, heavy ad content, color profiles.

    This doesn't excuse not putting in effort to be more efficient but that's a lot of code to manage. The browser codebases are the same size as Linux. Their priorities would be functionality and stability. Suspending and perhaps even compressing background tabs would be a good idea but sometimes that wouldn't be the desired action if the user is playing audio from Youtube/SoundCloud so they'd need overrides per tab.

    I'm just glad to be away from Safari's old forced tab reloading by having separate tabs as well as session resuming makes browsing much more stable. It's surprising to see applications having so much code vs an entire OS but it must be using all of it or it wouldn't be in there. It seems like it should be a lot simpler when it's just rendering a page of text, images and video. Here's the Chrome code:

    https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromium/src.git/+/master/chrome/browser/

    They have 3000 lines of code just for the bookmarks bar:

    https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromium/src.git/+/master/chrome/browser/ui/cocoa/bookmarks/bookmark_bar_controller.mm

    edited March 2017
  • Reply 17 of 17
    imawildmanimawildman Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Can't believe nobody suggested Opera. Uses way less CPU and RAM than Chrome and has suspended background tabs for ages now. It's basically the same as Chrome.
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