Google eyes Chrome on Windows laptop battery drain

July 19, 2014 by Nancy Owano

Google Chrome

Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows has been said to have a problem for some time but this week comes news that Google will give it the attention others think the problem quite deserves. Namely, Google is to pay attention to a Chrome bug that saps the laptop batteries of Windows users.

That has been around for years. Just because the browser is not being used at any time does not mean the browser is returning to an idle state. Windows laptops lose battery life faster. The problem was first reported in 2010 but a writer in Forbes earlier this week ignited keen interest in the problem. Ian Morris called attention to the way in which Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows was using considerably more power than other browsers. Morris, like so many other people, really likes Chrome and has made it his browser of choice.

(Here is the way Tom Warren in The Verge described the problem. He said that "laptop processors are waking up far more often than they should when Chrome is open on Windows and a webpage is idle. Internet Explorer and Firefox don't exhibit the same battery drain problem.")

Morris had explained how the problem was down to something called the "system clock tick rate." He said, "What Chrome does, as soon as it is opened, is set the rate to 1.000ms. The idle, under Windows, should be 15.625ms."

To save power, he said, 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

He also said, "Microsoft itself says that tick rates of 1.000ms might increase power consumption by 'as much as 25 per cent'"

Morris suggested Chrome users "star" the issue on the bug tracker. "This adds a vote for the issue to be looked at" and he said that "Perhaps if enough people do this, Google will actually take note and look into fixing the problem."

By Thursday, a much-quoted article in PCWorld revealed that Google is paying attention. Jared Newman reported,"In a statement to PCWorld, the company noted that the bug has been assigned internally, and that the Chrome team is working to fix it."

Likewise, according to The Register, "'I can confirm that this bug has been assigned internally and our team is working to resolve it,' a Google spokeswoman told The Reg via email on Friday."

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