Google Chrome is killing off support for some ancient PCs

Time for users to buy a new PC or seek out a new browser besides Google Chrome

Credit: Dreamstime

For one of the few users whose PC contains an Intel Pentium 4 or an AMD Athlon 64, bad news: they are about to lose access to Google’s Chrome browser.

As noted by TechRadar, Google is warning that in Google Chrome 89, the vendor plans to drop support for processors which lack Streaming SIMD Extensions support, or SSE3. The current version is Chrome 88. If PC includes one of those processors and tries to run Chrome, running the browser will result in a crash. Otherwise, Chrome simply won’t install.

Google's betting that the population impacted by this change is small. “Our analysis... indicates that there is a very small number of Windows devices running Chrome with x86 processors that do not support SSE3,” Google said.

The company added that it will give fair warning. “Until we require SSE3, Chrome will warn impacted users (with x86 CPUs that don’t support SSE3) that their computers will soon be unsupported. The implementation will use the framework in //chrome/browser/obsolete_system. This will result in a dismissible warning bar, and a permanent warning in the chrome://settings/help page,” Google said in a note.

Google began requiring SSE2 support in Chrome 35, which was released in May 2014 as part of the Chrome stable branch. Now it’s SSE3’s turn.

According to Wikipedia, SSE was introduced in the “Prescott” revision of the Intel Pentium 4 in 2004, and the “Venice” and “San Diego” revisions of the AMD Athlon 64, launched in 2005. That, of course, means that those processors are well outside of the five-year PC refresh cycle that AMD and Intel preach as a way to sell new, updated CPUs. If you own a system this old, maybe it’s time to replace your PC?

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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