Google today announced the debut of a 64-bit version of Chrome for Windows, starting with the introduction of 64-bit Dev and Canary channels for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. You can download both now from their respective pages: Dev and Canary.
It’s worth noting that in both cases the 64-bit version is offered by default if you are running a 64-bit flavor of Windows, though the 32-bit version is still available. This would suggest Google eventually plans to serve up the 64-bit version of Chrome as the default version for 64-bit Windows users.
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Google explains that going 64-bit has three main advantages, all of which align with its core principles for Chrome:
- Speed: 64-bit allows Google to take advantage of the latest processor and compiler optimizations, a more modern instruction set, and a calling convention that allows more function parameters to be passed quickly by registers. As a result, speed is improved, especially in graphics and multimedia content, which sees an average 25 percent bump in performance.
- Security: With Chrome able to take advantage of the latest OS features such as High Entropy ASLR on Windows 8, security is improved on 64-bit platforms as well. Those extra bits also help better defend against exploitation techniques such as JIT spraying, and improve the effectiveness of existing security defense features like heap partitioning.
- Stability: Google has observed a marked increase in stability for 64-bit Chrome over 32-bit Chrome. In particular, crash rates for the renderer process (i.e. Web content process) are almost half.
If you do install either of the new releases, the 64-bit version replaces the 32-bit one if you have it installed. It first imports all your settings and bookmarks though, so you don’t have to worry about backing anything up and uninstalling before you go 64-bit.
The dev channel for Chrome is updated once or twice weekly, and as its name implies, is meant for developers to test new features before they arrive in the beta. Google describes Canary as “the most bleeding-edge official version of Chrome and somewhat of a mix between Chrome dev and the Chromium snapshot builds.”
Based on Chrome’s six-week development process, we don’t expect a 64-bit version of Chrome beta or Chrome stable before August at the earliest. Given that Google didn’t offer a timeline though, it could very well be longer – likely depending on how testing goes.