Google Chrome’s latest experiments are designed to improve battery life and performance

Google Chrome’s latest experiments are designed to improve battery life and performance

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In an attempt to improve Google Chrome’s performance and reduce its impact on battery life, Google is testing two new features for the browser. The first feature, which was spotted in a Chromium bug tracker page, adds a new battery-savings meta tag that will optimize websites that are known to have high CPU or battery costs. An explainer regarding the new meta tag states:

“Saving battery or CPU is important for computing devices that are not connected to an electrical source, or to better share common CPU & GPU resources among running processes…Web sites that are known to have high CPU or battery costs may want to request that the UA optimize for CPU or battery, even if the users has not requested it…Most modern OSes also have battery saving features that kick in either when the battery is low or the user wishes to save battery. Ideally web sites should be able to respect these settings. Sites may wish to advice the UA on which strategies work best for the side in these situations.”

The new meta tag in Google Chrome will allow websites to add meta tags to reduce framerate, allow generic slowdown of script execution, and change behavior based on battery-savings settings for better battery life. Websites will be able to add tags like <meta name=”battery-savings” content=”allow-reduced-framerate”> in order to do so. The meta tag will allow video or video conferencing websites to reduce CPU usage and improve battery life, slow down JavaScript tasks that don’t directly impact UX, and switch to the battery savings mode if a user wishes to do so.

The explainer further highlights that the battery savings feature will have the following components:

  • A meta tag that allows sites to indicate preferred modes.
  • Media queries allowing sites to adjust their style sheets according to battery savings.
  • Spec text saying that if the user or OS has gone into a battery savings mode, then the User Agent should apply one or more of the battery savings to the sites.
  • Spec text saying that UAs should respect the meta tag on a site unless it conflicts with user or OS settings.

The second feature, which aims to improve Google Chrome’s performance, is restricted to Android devices. The feature has been added to the browser under a new flag called cpu-affinity-restrict-to-little-cores, and its description reads as follows: “Restricts Chrome threads to LITTLE cores on devices with big.LITTLE or similar CPU architectures.”

As per a recent report from Chrome Story, the feature is expected to make Chrome more power-efficient on ARM devices and improve its performance. The feature is currently in the experimental stage, and Google is studying its impact on power consumption, smoothness, and other system health metrics. Therefore, we may have to wait quite a while before the feature makes its way to the stable version of the browser.

It’s worth noting that these aren’t the only features Google is adding to Chrome to improve its performance and reduce its impact on battery life. The company is expected to add a Back Forward Cache feature in Chrome 86 for Android, which will allow users to go back and forward in the browser a lot faster. Google is also testing throttling background JavaScript timers to improve Chrome’s impact on battery life.


Source: Chromium bug tracker, GitHub, Chromium Gerrit