Google boosts garbage collection for Chrome browser

Company says the software will enhance performance of Web apps

Google is offering a new incremental garbage collector for its Chrome browser to "dramatically" improve the interactive performance of Web applications, the company said on Monday.

Garbage collection provides automatic memory management, reclaiming memory occupied by objects no longer being used by a program. Available on the Chrome release channels website, the garbage collector becomes part of Google's open source V8 JavaScript engine.

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"With the advent of technologies like WebGL [for 3D graphics in JavaScript], we're seeing the emergence of highly interactive and graphically intensive apps, such as the new version of Google Maps, new games, and demos. But with these new uses comes a need for better interactive performance in JavaScript," said Google software engineers Vyacheslav Egorov and Erik Corry in a blog post.

They add, "Avoiding pauses is vital to achieving good interactive performance. Previously, garbage collection pause times depended on the amount of memory used. Therefore, large interactive apps were impacted by pauses that caused hiccuping. V8's new [garbage collection] reduces pause times dramatically while maintaining great peak performance and memory use."

Google's engineers advised developers to try out the garbage collector if they are building highly interactive Web applications or games. The company is seeking feedback on the technology.

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