If you’ve been using Google Chrome on a Windows computer, you’ve probably been experiencing a slight drop in performance, along with the probably unnoticed by-product of increased power consumption, which because the desktop is plugged into the mains, not a big deal except for the wasted electricity. Unless you are using the Chrome browser on a Windows laptop that it, because the increased power consumption means that your laptop is going to run out of juice sooner than what it should. And it’s all down to a bug in the code.
What’s the bug? Well, it’s a setting within Chrome that is called the System Clock Tick Rate that schedules the operating system processes, and determines the device’s level of operation, i.e. when Windows sleeps, enters a low-power state or needs to power up to complete a task. Except, thanks to Chrome’s adjusting of the system’s ‘tick rate’, the system never actually goes to sleep even when there’s nothing to be done.
Where Windows sets the default tick rate at 15.625ms, only raising to 1.000ms when completing a task, Chrome sets the global ‘tick rate’ permanently at 1.000ms. It doesn’t sound like much does it? it’s only when you realise that where a ‘tick rate’ of 16.625ms would mean that the processor is waking up 64 times a second to check if the browser has any tasks to complete, a ‘tick rate’ of 1.000ms heralds an exponential increase, meaning that the processor is checking for browser-related tasks one thousand times a second. And because Chrome adjusts the laptop’s global ‘tick rate’, that means that everything else is affected, not just Chrome, and also explains the hit in performance that the user may experience. The change in tick rate can mean the difference between an idle system sucking down 15-20 Watts compared to a consumption rate of 12-15 Watts when Chrome isn’t running.
This isn’t a new bug by the way, it was first reported via the Chromium Bug Tracker way back in 2010, and up until a few days ago, had managed to slip through the cracks. Thanks to Ian Morris of Forbes bringing this to Google’s attention, the bug has been assigned, and has been given priority one status. Even though the bug has been assigned, you can still acknowledge the bug report by clicking on the star, thus voting for the bug to be fixed and receiving an update when the fix is released.
It should be noted that Android, Mac and Linux users (that includes Chromebooks) aren’t affected by this specific bug, it’s purely a windows problem. Mac’s and Linux use ‘Tickless Timers’. Until the fix is released, remember to shut down the Chrome browser properly if it isn’t in use. Let us know in the comments below or on our Google Plus page if you use the Chrome browser and your laptop has been running dry sooner than it should.