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Google experiments with new Chrome performance feature to extend battery life by 28%

By Liu Hongzuo - on 8 Jul 2020, 10:24am

Google experiments with new Chrome performance feature to extend battery life by 28%

Google Chrome logo.

It seems like Google is finding ways to make their web browser even more power-efficient than ever. Microsoft fan and news site TheWindowsClub spotted a JavaScript throttling feature in Chrome Canary (the beta testing version of Chrome). The feature reportedly reduces JavaScript usage in non-active tabs on Chrome, which translates to better battery life by up to 28% on mobile devices like phones and laptops.

Before this experimental feature, webpages opened in the background (non-active tabs) still run non-essential JavaScript tasks. While these tasks do not adversely affect web browsing performance, they would still consume battery power. The throttling feature reduces JavaScript activity in background pages to one wake-up per minute, which significantly cuts down the number of JavaScript checks, in turn helping to conserve battery.

Experiment 1 in the technical document with a blank active webpage and 36 inactive webpages on other sites.

As recorded in a technical document by the Chromium dev team, the testers ran at least two benchmarking experiments to assess the effectiveness of this tweak to JavaScript activity. The first experiment ran a blank page in the foreground with 36 other inactive tabs parked on various webpages. The second test had a YouTube video playing in the active tab with the same 36 non-active tabs running in the background.

Second experiment, with YouTube on the active page instead.

The experimenters found that throttling JavaScript could extend the battery life of a 15-inch MacBook Pro 2018 model by nearly two hours in the first test, and by another 36 minutes in the second test. These numbers also translate to a battery improvement of 28% and 13% respectively compared to no throttling.

This JavaScript throttling feature can be found in Chrome Canary. The developers are still testing the feature across various use cases, such as their in-house Google Docs and on certain messenger platforms before they ship it out in the stable version. TheWindowsClub said that this feature could apply to Chrome for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android OS, and Chrome OS, which means that it might be available to just about any mobile device - we just don't know when exactly.

Source: TheWindowsClub, Ars Technica