Chrome 89 increases desktop memory efficiency with PartitionAlloc | GeekComparison

This week's new Chrome build looks no different, but introduces plenty of performance and efficiency improvements under the hood.
enlarge / This week’s new Chrome build looks no different, but introduces plenty of performance and efficiency improvements under the hood.

Google Chrome version 89 started on March 2 for users in the stable channel and should now be on most people’s machines. The new build offers significant memory savings on 64-bit Windows platforms thanks to the increased use of Google’s PartitionAlloc memory mapper. On macOS, Chrome 89 is catching up and getting closer to the performance of the flagship Windows builds.

Chrome on Windows

Google says RAM usage in 64-bit Windows has dropped to 22 percent in the browser process, 8 percent in the renderer, and 3 percent in the GPU. The company also claims a 9 percent drop in latency, which means a more responsive browser. The improvements are largely due to the interception malloc() calls with PartitionAlloc.

Chrome 89 has also become significantly more aggressive in discarding unused RAM. When you scroll off-screen resources, such as large images, on the foreground tab, Chrome removes the memory used by those resources. The change also affects background tabs, resulting in a savings of as much as 100 MiB per tab.

Chrome on macOS

Chrome 89 on macOS is still catching up, but now includes improvements to memory management on background tabs that other platforms have had for a while — Google says this means up to 8 percent RAM savings on macOS.

Tab throttling has also been improved on macOS in build 89, with up to 65 percent better Apple Energy Impact scores on background tabs.

Chrome on Android

In theory, a developer only needs one APK for just about any Android device. In practice, resources on mobile are often very limited, making the concept of packages tailored to the capabilities of an individual device much more appealing than on more powerful desktop or laptop systems.

Google has updated the Play Store itself to generate optimized APKs for a user’s specific device, and has updated Chrome to take advantage of the new capabilities. Using these Android App Bundles and Isolated Splits, Chrome can start with a significantly reduced initial codebase and later dynamically load more features as the user needs them.

A new feature called Freeze-Dried Tabs cuts boot time even further. Google describes freeze-dried tabs as lightweight versions of those tabs that are about the size of a screenshot but support scrolling, zooming, and left tapping. When opening Chrome, the first screen uses freeze-dried tabs, getting you into the browser up to 13 percent faster with some interactivity.

Freeze-dried tabs, in particular, sound like a huge improvement over the usual mobile app practice of showing a recent screenshot of the app as it loads, misleading users. think the app loads much faster and smoother than it actually did, but offers no more actual function than if the app were to show a blank screen while it was loading.

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