Google kills off Microsoft’s RAM-saving feature for Chrome on Windows 10

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In the not too distant past, Microsoft claimed it had found a way to fix Chrome’s notorious RAM usage in Windows 10, but if you had hoped this would make the web browser less resource-hungry, we’ve got some bad news, as Google has just disabled the fix.

Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world, but it has been annoying and frustrating users for years now due to how much RAM it uses. If you have lots of tabs open at once, you may notice your machine starts to slow down – and this problem is so bad that Microsoft took it upon itself to fix the issue in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update by using the Segment Heap feature.

This, Microsoft claimed (opens in new tab), would result in a 27% reduction in memory usage for its Chromium-based Edge web browser, which uses the same engine as Chrome. This saving was large enough for Google to take notice and adopt it for Chrome as well.

However, it now seems like the RAM-saving fix Microsoft came up with will be turned off by default in future versions of Chrome.

Why?

So, why has Google killed off such a popular fix? It seems that while using Segment Heap did cut down on RAM usage by Chrome, an Intel engineer discovered (opens in new tab) that it ended up causing “performance regression” in other areas – particularly the processor.

And, according to a Chrome developer, “the CPU cost (10% slowdown on speedometer 2.0, 13% increase in CPU/power consumption) is too great for us too keep,” and so the feature will be turned off by default in Chrome 85, which will be released in August.

But does this mean we have to live with Chrome eating up all our RAM? Hopefully not. Firstly, Google has stopped using the feature for now while it runs more tests, and could “reconsider in the future,” if there’s a way to implement it without impacting the CPU too much.

Google also claims it is working on other optimizations for Chrome 85, so we may see Chrome’s RAM usage come down anyway.

Hopefully Google does find a way of cutting Chrome’s RAM usage, as it’s arguably the web browser’s biggest flaw, and many people are getting fed up with it.

Via TechDows (opens in new tab)

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.