Over the past several days, Gizmodo has been highlighting freezing and crashing issues on several of its staff’s new MacBook Air models, linking the problems to Google Chrome. Switching to Apple’s Safari browser eliminated all of the issues, and thus the site recommended that owners of the new machines avoid Chrome for the time being.
Google has now issued a statement to Gizmodo acknowledging that Chrome is the culprit and discussing the steps it is taking to address the issue. While Google has disabled some of Chrome’s GPU acceleration on an emergency basis as it seeks to deploy a permanent solution, the company has also filed a bug report with Apple as such issues should not be able to cause an entire system to freeze or crash.
“We have identified a leak of graphics resources in the Chrome browser related to the drawing of plugins on Mac OS X. Work is proceeding to find and fix the root cause of the leak.
The resource leak is causing a kernel panic on Mac hardware containing the Intel HD 4000 graphics chip (e.g. the new Macbook Airs). Radar bug number 11762608 has been filed with Apple regarding the kernel panics, since it should not be possible for an application to trigger such behavior.
While the root cause of the leak is being fixed, we are temporarily disabling some of Chrome’s GPU acceleration features on the affected hardware via an auto-updated release that went out this afternoon (Thursday June 28). We anticipate further fixes in the coming days which will re-enable many or all of these features on this hardware.”
With the issue affecting all systems using Intel HD 4000 graphics, all of Apple’s notebook models released earlier this month are susceptible and owners of the new MacBook Pro models are indeed also reporting the issue.
First launched in September 2008, Chrome has steadily gained in overall popularity among desktop Internet browsers and is currently running neck-and-neck with Firefox for the second position behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.