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Google turns to Microsoft to help solve Chrome’s battery drain problem

Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world by an absolute mile, but it isn’t without its problems. Open up more than a few Chrome tabs and you’ll soon find your PC slowing down to a crawl as Chrome hogs up all of your device’s RAM. Another big problem, Chrome users face is battery drain. When you’re using Google Chrome, your device is burning through battery life much faster than it usually would.

Chrome’s popularity, however, might have inadvertently served up a solution to this battery draining problem. Microsoft recently turned its Edge browser into a Chromium powered browser meaning all Edge developers and engineers are now working on the same open-source code that Google used to build Google Chrome. While doing so it looks like they might have discovered a fix to Chrome’s battery power woes.

Microsoft engineers flagged a fix for Chrome’s battery drain problem and it took Google less than a week to implement it

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Those of you with good memories will remember the time we reported on the Microsoft Edge engineer who had to boot up Google Chrome in the middle of a presentation. The engineer was able to display the page he was looking for and continued on with his presentation but, nonetheless, the episode proved rather embarrassing for Microsoft to say the least. It now looks like Microsoft has finally had a chance to turn the tables as just a few months after they’ve moved Edge over to the Chromium ecosystem, the Microsoft team is having an effect on the Google Chrome browser itself.

The Microsoft engineers identified the problem behind the battery drain as being the excessive caching of data that Chromium browsers exhibit when handling media. According to a Chromium commit on the issue, “Keeping the disk active during this process increases power consumption in general and can also prevent certain lower-power modes from being engaged in the operating system. Since media consumption is a high-usage scenario, this extra power usage has a negative impact on battery life.” Caching data means the disk is active and is therefore a power-hungry thing to do. Any activity that does it is going to negatively affect your battery life.

The fix that Microsoft suggested involves the prevention of some data caching, which can effect the speed you can access certain types of media, but also detects when a power source is connected so that caching can continue as normal when battery usage isn’t an issue.

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Google quickly added the Microsoft fix to its Chrome developer build

From when the Microsoft engineers first created the “caching” flag that enables the fix it took Chrome engineers less than a week to implement it themselves into the Google Chrome Canary build. This means there is a good chance it’ll soon make it into the regular version of Google Chrome, and we’ll all be able to save a bit of battery power the next time we boot up the Google web browser. Thanks Microsoft, we promise to try Edge again soon.

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