Browser, Browser on the wall who is the best browser of them all?

Google’s Chrome Web Browser doesn’t like laptops.

Rather than do a whose best we thought we would look at at anything that gets missed in the usual tests. First one up is Google Chrome.

Google Chrome, a laptop and Microsoft Windows is potentially a very bad combination. It will reduce your battery life, and slow down your computer.

Chrome eats through your battery quicker than other internet browsers. The problem is down to something called the “system clock tick rate”. This is something that you wont hear about because its something that Windows uses internally. As soon as Chrome is opened it sets the rate to 1.000ms.  The Windows default is 15.625ms. The numbers dont matter but what is happening does.

In any OS like Windows, events are often set to run at intervals. To save power, the processor sleeps when nothing needs attention, and wakes at predefined intervals. This interval is what Chrome adjusts in Windows, so reducing it to 1.000ms means that the system is waking far more often than at 15.625ms. In fact, at 1.000ms the processor is waking 1000 times per second. The default, of 15.625ms means the processor wakes just 64 times per second to check on events that need attention.

Microsoft itself says that tick rates of 1.000ms might increase power consumption by “as much as 25 per cent”. It’s also a problem because, by its very nature, the system tick rate is global, meaning that one application is able to spoil everything, and because regular users don’t care about tick rates, most of us would never know this was a problem.

So, what about other browsers? Well, when you open the most recent version of Internet Explorer, the rate stays at 15.625ms until the browser needs to do something where the rate must increase. If you go to YouTube, say, and play a video IE will increase the rate to 1.00ms. When you shut that tab, and carry on with normal browsing, it will return to 15.625ms. In Chrome though, it is increasing the rate as soon as the browser is opened, and it keeps it high until you shut the browser completely.

Many people never shut a browser. It’s usually left open for very good reasons for example Gmail, Google Drive and just leave it open on a news page to return to later. So if uyou use Chrome then the browser is eating more than it needs to of battery power.

So apart from needing to re-charge your battery whats the problem? Well sasimply every battery has a limited number of re-charges before it needs to be replaced. An average battery lasts 2 years, now according to this it means you will be lucky to have a battery last just over a year.

If you couple in that Google has the highest security vulnerabilities, is know to crash on a regular basis, and is harder to unload because it spawns more processes, then you will have less than the ideal browser, it is fast but now you know why.

IUt’s worth pointing out that Macs and Linux machines don’t have this problem, because they use something called “tickless timers”. Microsoft might address this problem in the future, but it’s unlikely to be in a rush when other developers seem able to work around the problem.

So, what can be done? Well, not much. This bug was known a long, long time ago, and it’s been raised with Google via its Chromium bug tracker for a long time. It has, for the most part, been ignored. The first report was in 2010. If Google doesn’t take the problem seriously, then the bug will remain, and Windows laptops running Chrome will drain the battery faster than the same machine running Internet Explorer or Firefox.

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