Google’s Chrome browser is far and away the most popular way to browse the web, which is surprising when you consider its abysmal memory management. It’s not uncommon for Chrome to gobble up multiple gigabytes of RAM in Windows, which can make devices with limited memory hard to use. There may be hope on the horizon, though. A new feature in Windows 10 might allow Google to streamline Chrome, and we know it works because Microsoft is already using it.
Microsoft used to shy away from open source projects, but when the time came to replace the Edge browser, Chromium was the easy choice. The Chromium project is the basis for numerous browsers like Opera, Brave, and of course, Chrome. Microsoft moved quickly to develop a new version of Edge that used Chromium. It announced the project in late 2018, and just over a year later, Microsoft had a final version ready for download.
Chromium Edge rolled out to almost all Windows 10 computers in the recent May 2020 update. According to Microsoft, this update also implemented a new memory management feature in Edge known as SegmentHeap. In the latest version of Windows, developers can opt into SegmentHeap to lower the RAM usage of a program. Microsoft says it already added support to the new Edge browser, and it has seen a 27 percent drop in the browser’s memory footprint.
As anyone who’s used Chrome regularly can confirm, Google’s browser has a way of running away with all your RAM once you get past a handful of tabs. However, Google has taken note of the new SegmentHeap functionality in Windows. A new comment in the Chromium open source project suggests the addition of SegmentHeap support on Windows. The comment notes that devices with higher numbers of processor threads will benefit the most, but everyone should get some RAM back. Testing individual machines with modified Chrome executables shows that SegmentHeap could save several hundred megabytes at least.
Google is still in the earliest phase of adding this feature to Chrome. It might appear in the Canary build soon, followed by a Dev channel release. It will take at least a few months after that for SegmentHeap support to arrive in the Stable channel that most people use.
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