Google reveals trick behind massive Chrome speed boost on Windows

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Google has found a way to significantly increase the performance of its Chrome browser that it says will let uses see a major speed boost.

In a blog post written by Chrome developer David Bienvenu, the company claims that since implementing the changes, Chrome became 8.5% to 25.8% faster at startup, used 3.1% less GPU memory, had 20.4% fewer renderer frames drawn overall, as well as 4.5% fewer clients experiencing renderer crashes. There is also a 3.0% improvement in first input delay, as well as a 6.7% improvement in first contentful paint and largest contentful paint.

It managed to do so by realizing exactly when Chrome windows are occluded, or completely covered by other windows.

The developers of the browser used the same methodology as they previously did with Chrome tabs. When the tabs aren’t being used (are not in the direct view of the user), they don’t get rendered. It saves up on computing power, making the entire browser work faster.

Tackling non-opaque windows

When trying to apply the same logic to the entire Chrome window, however, a few problems arose: The operating system doesn’t provide a direct way of finding out when a window is completely covered by other windows. One Chrome window covering another isn’t that big of a deal, but other windows (programs, file explorers, etc.) are a challenge.

Complicating things further are multi-monitor setups, virtual desktops, non-opaque windows and cloaked windows. “This needs to be done with great care, because if we decide that a window is occluded when in fact it is visible to the user, then the area where the user expects to see web contents will be white,” explains Bienvenu. “We also don’t want to block the UI thread while doing the occlusion calculation, because that could reduce the responsiveness of Chrome and degrade the user experience.”

After three years of experimentation, Chrome’s developers came up with project Native Window Occlusion, improving start up as much as 25%.

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.