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Google’s Spectre Fix Increases Chrome RAM Usage by 10 Percent

Question asked by kingfish on Jul 14, 2018
Latest reply on Jul 14, 2018 by black_zion

Most vulnerabilities in modern computer systems are patched without any noticeable impact for end users. That’s not necessarily the case with Meltdown and Spectre, which strike at the very heart of microprocessors functionality. A new round of Spectre flaws have appeared, but Google is in the process of adding functionality to desktop Chrome that will block remote execution of Spectre. The downside, however, is Chrome will use even more RAM than it already does

. Google v67 build of Chrome contains a feature called Site Isolation to combat Spectre attacks. This feature has been available in Chrome since v63, but it was behind a developer flag. Now, it’s on by default for everyone. Site Isolation makes Spectre attacks less dangerous by using a separate renderer for each domain. Chrome has always had a multi-process architecture separated by tabs, but a single tab could render content from multiple domains by way of cross-site iframes or clever JavaScript. That setup could theoretically allow a Spectre exploit to read data belonging to other domains on the page, like your passwords or browser cookies.

Enforcing Site Isolation comes with a drawback, though. Using a separate renderer for every domain means more active renderers, and thus, more memory usage. Chrome is already notorious for high RAM usage, but it could be 10-13 percent higher with Site Isolation enabled. This feature already rolled out in the beta and dev channels, so some of you have experienced the effects.


Google's Spectre Fix Increases Chrome RAM Usage by 10 Percent - ExtremeTech