Chrome 63 For Desktop Offers Enhanced Security At Expense Of Even Greater Memory Usage

Google Chrome is by far the most popular internet browser on the planet for PCs, but with that popularity has come a reputation for being a memory (and battery) hog. Microsoft has pointed out this discrepancy on numerous occasions while promoting its Edge browser in Windows 10.

Unfortunately for Chrome users that want an even more secure browsing experience, a new feature introduced in Chrome 63 for the desktop will ratchet up memory usage even higher. The feature, called Site Isolation, uses a strict policy that relegates individual websites to their own separate process.

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"When you enable site isolation, content for each open website in the Chrome browser is always rendered in a dedicated process, isolated from other sites," writes Google in a support document describing the feature. "This creates an additional security boundary between websites."

This is a further extension of Google Chrome's default behavior, which typically uses one process per tab. However, certain situations mean that related tabs can share a process, and this is especially true when a large number of tabs are open (in this case, tab/process sharing is even more prevalent). That means a website crash or security incident could possibly knock out multiple tabs.

Site Isolation gives users better granular control to avoid situations like this with a dedicated rendering process, isolating sites from each other. The feature can either be turned on for all websites, or it can be turned on for a specific website (or group of websites).

Google is not enabling this feature by default, which is probably a good thing. Google says that turning on Site Isolation will result in a 10 to 20 percent increase in memory usage, which is a heavy price to pay for an already resource-intensive browser.