Google's blobby mystery doodle consumes more CPU than Flash video (updated)

Summary:Google has provided people who use its home page in the UK and Germany with a new toy: a blobby doodle where the balls that make up the letters flee from your mouse pointer. And like the Buckyballs doodle I wrote about recently, it’s a resource hog.

Google has provided people who use its home page in the UK and Germany with a new toy: a blobby doodle where the balls that make up the letters flee from your mouse pointer. And like the Buckyballs doodle I wrote about recently, it’s a resource hog. In Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 running on Windows XP, it consumes about 40% of the CPU while the blobs are moving. It’s more efficient in Google Chrome, consuming about 25% (18-30, like a holiday). However, Firefox 3.5.11 is worst of all, at 45-50%, with less smooth movements, too.

It uses roughly twice as much CPU as playing an Adobe Flash video at YouTube. This is progress?

You have to wonder how this whole “HTML5 v Flash” thing is going to work out. Given that a lot of companies are going to have far worse programmers than Google, a web overloaded with badly-written HTML5 could cripple a lot of older machines. (A lot of corporate PCs are 4-5 years old.)

Another point is that the same code produces dramatically different results, as Microsoft has already shown with some of its IE9 demos. In this case, Google’s doodle provides bigger, cruder blobs in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox than it does in IE8. Presumably this demonstrates that IE8 is less standards-compliant than its major rivals, but this is illustrated by the IE8 rendering looking much nicer.

Another mystery is that, unlike Google’s usual doodles, it’s not clear what’s being celebrated. It could simply be one of Google’s birthdays, but PR Media Blog has some better suggestions:

- September 7 is the day the first TV camera tube picture was transmitted - Google is holding a press conference at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) tomorrow (September 8).

However, another clue is that the Search On event’s web address ends with /searchmtv/2010, which suggests that it will have something to do with Google TV and, perhaps, Google Goggles.

It probably will not feature Noel Edmonds

Update: I used the term “HTML5” rather loosely above, as standing for a basket of technologies as illustrated in Apple’s HTML5 demos. It turns out that Google’s blobby doodle is implemented in CSS3, but this prompted Rob Hawkes to code it again in Recreating Google’s bouncing balls logo in HTML5 canvas. It doesn’t have all the Googly features, but it’s close enough.

With the real HTML5 doodle, Google’s Chrome browser uses 25-30% of my CPU, which is generally a bit more than Google’s version. Firefox uses 33-38% of my CPU, which is a little less. Of course, it doesn’t run at all in IE8, which is presumably why Google didn’t take this approach.

Does this make HTML5 better that CSS3? Not necessarily. With Google’s version, none of the doodles consumes any CPU if the mouse is nowhere near the doodle. With this particular HTML5 version, Chrome consumes 25-30% of my CPU in the background, while Firefox consumes a terrible 33-38%.

I’ve never noticed HTML5 canvas doing this before, and I hope never to see it again. I typically have a dozen tabs open in any browser I’m running, and fairly often I have more than one browser open. I really don’t want to be in a position where 20 tabs all want 30% of my CPU….

Finally, please note: I’m not claiming this is a comprehensive report: it’s just one man watching what happens on one of his PCs using Process Explorer because, well, I’m like that.

Topics: Tech Industry

About

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first webs... Full Bio

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