Chrome on OS X is a battery hog. It’s been known for a while that compared to Apple’s stock Safari browser, Chrome has a tendency to eat up CPU cycles and use excess amounts of memory. Google took a step earlier this month to combat this problem by reining in the much-hated Adobe Flash Player plugin. Using what Google calls “Intelligent Pause,” Chrome can decide for itself whether a particular Flash element is worth displaying to the user. If isn’t, it will be disabled, thus helping to save your laptop’s battery from prematurel discharging.
But Adobe isn’t the only party at fault when it comes to Chrome’s power-wasting past. Google has to share part of the blame, with senior Chrome engineer Peter Kasting admitting, “One of the big complaints about Chrome currently is that it's a battery hog, especially on Mac where Safari seems to do better.”
Google is taking a number of steps to improve the power efficiency situation in OS X, with one of the big changes coming from how background tabs are rendered. In its current incarnation, Kasting explains that background Chrome tabs were given the same priority level as tabs that were in the foreground. This is obviously not an optimum solution when it comes to efficiency, so background tabs will now get a lower priority. As a result, idle wakeup times have been improved by up to 50 percent in some tests.
There are number of other under the hood improvements that Google is baking into future builds of Chrome that will allow the browser to match or exceed the efficiency performance of Safari. “The Chrome team has no intention of sitting idly by (pun intended) when our users are suffering,” states an apologetic Kasting. “You should expect us to continually improve in this area.”
As for memory usage, Kasting acknowledges that it is a problem Google is working to solve, explaining, “Memory use is certainly another complaint, which we've been working on separately.”