Chrome 64-bit browser finally available as a stable version

Google Chrome logoGoogle today released a 64-bit stable version of its Chrome browser for Windows systems. The 64-bit support has been in testing since June, and as of Chrome version 37 it has made it to the mainstream version.

The 64-bit version offers three main advantages and one possible drawback. The browser's advantages are speed, security, and stability. Google claims that certain media and graphics workloads in particular are faster with 64-bit. It offers the example of VP9 video decoding—used for some YouTube high-definition streams—being 15 percent quicker compared to 32-bit.

Security is enhanced both through enabling new protection systems and making existing protection systems stronger. Windows has a built-in security feature called ASLR (address space layout randomization) that makes bug exploits harder to write by randomizing the location of things such as DLLs in memory. The 64-bit applications have much more memory available, thereby creating a much larger haystack in which to hide the needles that exploits look for. Google has its own protection systems that similarly try to separate different kinds of data in memory, and 64-bit likewise gives them more space to play with.

Google Chrome 37 64-bit

The advertising company also says that stability has improved, with the 64-bit version of the browser being "twice as stable" as its 32-bit equivalent.

Yet the 64-bit browser is missing one feature found in the 32-bit browser: support for the 32-bit NPAPI plugin API. This means that some browser plugins will not work; current versions of Java and Silverlight should be OK (as they have 64-bit plugins) but some, such as the Google Earth plugin, will not. Google intends to remove 32-bit NPAPI support at some point in the future, so this gap will not be permanent.

The 32-bit browser is still the default at the moment, so anyone wanting to switch will have to re-download the browser and explicitly choose to get the 64-bit version. This release makes Chrome the second major browser to have a stable 64-bit version on Windows, with Internet Explorer being the first.

Chrome 37 also marks the stable release of DirectWrite graphics on Windows. DirectWrite should make text rendering look more attractive and run a little faster.

Update: the paragraph about NPAPI support has been altered to correctly identify which plugins are and aren't supported.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: browsers, Chrome, Google

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