Anyone who has ever used Google Chrome knows full well the notoriously RAM-hungry nature of the popular web browser. Microsoft made a major wave when they implemented a new feature to deal with the problem. The tech giant added a new Segment Heap feature to Windows 10.
Chrome is a big problem for users with limited RAM configurations. Windows 10 installs usually use less than 2 GB of RAM at idle. Although booting up Chrome is a surefire way to change that. Expect a Chrome instance with multiple tabs open to quicky eat up 2-3 GB of RAM. And with the release of the Segment Heap in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, Google has made the problem worse again.
Chrome for desktop devices accounts for roughly 30% of all internet users, giving it the biggest market share among browser users. And with mobile users accounted for, another 30% are also in that segment. Overall, Chrome is really popular. So pretty much anyone on the internet right now is well-aware of the RAM usage issue. So Google bypassing the controls to reduce memory usage is pretty bad.
The Segment Heap improvements add in Windows-controlled improvements to memory allocation for Win32 applications. This means that the default Heap that allows for memory management is optimized for certain workloads. One Google engineer cited that the improvement could reduce memory usage within Chrome by hundreds of megabytes. And the reduction also applies elsewhere.
Microsoft claimed the change could result in a 27% reduction in memory usage for its Chromium-based Edge web browser, which uses the same engine as Chrome.
But now, it looks like Google has disabled the feature by default in future Chrome versions.
So, why did Google kill of the feature? It seems that while there are initial performance gains from the Segment Heap improvements, some are citing other problems. One Intel engineer claims that the patch ended up causing “performance regression” in other areas – particularly the processor.
And, according to a Chrome insider, “the CPU cost (10% slowdown on speedometer 2.0, 13% increase in CPU/power consumption) is too great for us too keep,” and that means Chrome versions 85 and beyond will disable the feature by default.
Google has also said they are working on other solutions, and will continue to test viable options, saying they will possibly reconsider the change at some point. The company also said that Chrome 85 will contain various improvements to its codebase designed to reduce overall resource consumption.