Google Chrome Has Increased RAM Consumption After Spectre ‘Improvement’

Yes it’s true: Google Chrome will now consume even more RAM in order to ensure that these pesky Spectre vulnerabilities will not endanger your system. The bad news is that short of changing your browser or adding more RAM you have no choice.

Short refresh: Spectre and Meltdown are chip-level security vulnerabilities that were discovered earlier in 2018. They affect both AMD and Intel processors among others, and may even be present on your PC/laptop. Since receiving a free processor upgrade is out of the question, the vulnerabilities can only be patched at a software level.

In a blog post, Google explains while your browser is even more hungry now:

Site Isolation is a significant change to Chrome’s behavior under the hood, but it generally shouldn’t cause visible changes for most users or web developers (beyond a few known issues). It simply offers more protection between the websites behind the scenes. Site Isolation does cause Chrome to create more renderer processes, which comes with performance tradeoffs: on the plus side, each renderer process is smaller, shorter-lived, and has less contention internally, but there is about a 10-13% total memory overhead in real workloads due to the larger number of processes. Our team continues to work hard to optimize this behavior to keep Chrome both fast and secure.

Site isolation has now been enabled by default for most of the users and you are not able to turn off, as it is mandatorily enabled. Google further elaborates that the purpose o the site isolation is to prevent extended data transfer between your machine and potentially malicious attackers that seek to gain access to your private information.

While better security is always good news, the cost may be a bit high for Chrome users with older machines that may be significantly slowed down by the update. The feature is here to stay, so as previously stated, should you not like it, only switching browsers may help you.

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About the Author: Francis E. Hagopian

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