Yandex Browser's GPU crashes dropped significantly after pretending to be Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 19, 2023
Google Chrome

Yandex Browser is a Chromium-based browser, which means that it uses the same core as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, Vivaldi or Opera. The browser was launched in 2012. One would assume that performance of all these browsers would be about the same in most cases, but this is apparently not the case.

Maxim Smirnov, who leads Yandex's browser performance team, describes in a new blog post on the official company blog how his team managed to reduce GPU process crashes by the factor 5.5 and memory consumption of the GPU process by 8% on average.  According to Yandex, all they had to do is rename the GPU process to chrome.exe.

The improvements were observed on AMD systems, and it is unclear if NVIDIA systems are affected by this as well.

The idea to see if renaming the process would improve performance of the company's browser came after Smirnov's team analyzed a scrolling issue that affected the company's browser but not Chrome and Edge on the same Lenovo laptop. The team confirmed that its browser was using the same touchpad logic as the other browsers. When Yandex renamed its browser executable from browse.exe to chrome.exe, it noticed that the scrolling issue was fixed.

This suggested that a list of hardcoded application file names was used by the touchpad driver, and that Yandex's browser was not on the list.

Optimizing browser performance by pretending to be chrome.exe

Yandex's performance team remembered the touchpad solution, and decided to investigate, if the renaming of the GPU process would have a positive effect on the browser's performance. If an installed GPU driver would also use hardcoded process names, it could mean that these processes would benefit from this.

Yandex used an internal function of Chromium to replace browser.exe with chrome.exe internally only. This had the advantage that the process name was left untouched. Users who opened the Task Manager would still see browser.exe as the process name.

The company set up an A/B experiment to check if the change had any impact on the GPU process' stability and performance. Turns out it did: "The results surprised us a lot: for users with AMD video cards from the experimental group, the number of GPU process crashes decreased by 5.5 times, the memory consumption of the GPU process decreased by an average of 8%, and the opening of web pages in the browser and interface responsiveness also slightly accelerated".

Yandex's conclusion was, that the AMD driver used hardcoded process names for certain features or optimizations. Yandex contacted AMD to request inclusion of its browser in the list. The company is aware that this would affect future drivers only, and it decided to launch a change in Yandex Browser version 22.9.0 that pretends that the browser's GPU process is chrome.exe.

Closing Words

Other Chromium-based browsers and applications may be affected by this as well. Browser makers may want to verify this by running their own sets of tests.

Yandex Browser's GPU crashes dropped significantly after pretending to be Chrome
Article Name
Yandex Browser's GPU crashes dropped significantly after pretending to be Chrome
Yandex changed the name of its GPU process name to Google Chrome's to improve performance and reduce GPU crashes significantly.
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  1. Phil G said on March 19, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    re Fried_Curly_Chair_Squad

    Wait till Chrome finally decides to lock everything down with manifest v3, Chrome Fanboy. Some people will snap out of it and be looking for an alternative, and FireFox will be there.

    1. Iron Heart said on March 22, 2023 at 8:48 pm

      @Phil G

      Phil, Brave includes an adblocker that is baked right into the browser, without reliance on extension APIs. Adblocking is not a good reason to use Firefox.

    2. john said on March 20, 2023 at 5:29 pm

      people will probably go to vivaldi or brave rather than going to firefox.

      1. Mystique said on March 21, 2023 at 1:22 pm

        Perhaps they will john but that also depends on if vivaldi or brave will continue to hold firm on their promise to not go down the same path as google or at least make some modifications to manifest v3 to not have such artificial limits on many things.

        Mozilla is just as much in the same boat as these two also. It all depends if they hold firm. I wouldn’t put it past any of them to bait-and-switch.

        I have noticed that some extension developers have slowed down development for their extensions, put off major rewrites or given up altogether based on the fact that they are unsure of what is to come from Manifest v3 and as such we are seeing fewer extensions now and certainly less complex ones being introduced to the repositories. This is also a reflection of the flaccid system that is in place now but that is another story. Extension developers have their hands tied behind their backs at this point.

        Putting off Manifest v3 has come at a cost. If google wants to be a jerk and be the only one going down that path then so be it but that would at least give extension developers an idea of what they are to do or encourage them to feel confident to begin work on their extensions again or build new ones as they would then know where exactly they stand.

        I’m still boggled as to why nobody has began making plans or establishing their own repository for extensions prior to the sh!t hitting the fan.
        It doesn’t instill me with confidence particularly from the perspective of a chromium based user

    3. Mystique said on March 20, 2023 at 8:03 am

      This all honestly depends on if Mozilla wants to hold firm and steering the ship away from following chrome and living in the shadows of it with its questionably similar approaches to google chrome on thing such as UI.
      They need to go back to embracing the community and extension developers that helped them considerably to get to where they were only to shoot them down and themselves in the process.
      Btw, I do use a firefox based browser and started using Firefox well before in was even called Firefox if that matters.

      I do see your point though. I have tried and used several browsers. I honestly think that when Manifest v3 kicks in and google pushes their agenda most people will not even notice and if they do then they will do two things… complain to the tech in the family or install scamware like Total Adblock which is making its rounds lately as some sort of hero for the ignorant but its really just a scam that forces you to pay/subscribe for it and also very poor at what it does whilst also deliberately allowing ads by networks, websites or companies that perhaps pay them for referrals or to be on the hard-coded allowed list. As a moment of public noticed this scamware is available to many browsers including chrome and on also on Mozilla’s repository and should be removed. It is being advertised on several websites also as I was told by a family member. This is basically what will happen and Firefox will be a last resort for them.

  2. Mystique said on March 19, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    I’m not surprised by this in the slightest. Google has also gone to great lengths and played the long game to manipulate and dominate not only web standards but the browser market for their own benefit.
    Microsoft attempted to do this many years ago also but for some reason everyone gives Google a pass. I accredit this to a largely boneheaded audience that mash their greasy fingers on a screen all day long oblivious to the facts. These are the same kinda people that would have installed Bonzibuddy or the Google toolbar for IE back in the day and if that wasn’t enough they’d install the MSN and Yahoo one too. I guess whatever foistware was available at the time would be a GO.

    I know there are a lot of Johnny-come-latelies here that grew up with Chrome but it wasn’t always this way nor was life before chrome the misery you or google want to to make it out to be.

    This is not in the best interest of chrome users or anyone for there to be this kind of manipulation going on. Its the same thing when benchmarking software were found to favor a particular GPU brand over another… yep this is just as bad if not completely worse because this is real world usage.

  3. Šime Vidas said on March 19, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Please link to original URLs instead of Google Translate.

  4. Fried_Curly_Chair_Squad said on March 19, 2023 at 9:09 am

    That’s because it’s better than Firefox. If Firefox was so good, all the browsers would have been forks of Firefox, but they aren’t, maybe there is a pretty good reason behind that. And the reason is Firefox sucks.

    1. Frankel said on March 19, 2023 at 10:41 am

      Consider what flies eat. Chrome is just that. How can billions of flies be wrong? It must be good!

      1. Iron Heart said on March 22, 2023 at 8:50 pm


        Firefox can’t even keep the users it already had. 50 millions lost since 2019, perhaps it’s because Firefox is pretty much what flies (and fanboys) eat.

      2. Fried_Curly_Chair_Squad said on March 19, 2023 at 7:31 pm

        That’s BS, you’re just butthurt. Firefox was the king of browsers in 2005-2010. It was the best, then Chrome came and at the same time Firefox became worse because of stupid updates by Mozilla and now is down to 6% market share, it used to have more than 30% in 2010. For people to stop using it, there is a reason, don’t give me that crap. People stop using POS software because it’s POS.

        Opera was always a joke with it’s 2-3% market share, but soon Firefox will lose even to Opera and then it will be the biggest joke, or the biggest will be when Firefox switches to Blink. xD

      3. Iron Heart said on March 22, 2023 at 8:53 pm


        You are still overrating Firefox. Across all platforms, it actually has below 3% market share. And yes, when web developers stop testing their stuff on Firefox because it’s no longer worth it, Mozilla will either switch it to Blink or they turn to pure NGO activism and drop Firefox entirely, it’s not like they are far away from that.

      4. Mystique said on March 20, 2023 at 8:55 am

        Google was and is the king of marketing, bamboozling and foistware. The truth is Chrome was bog terrible when it first came out but at the same time people were worshiping Google as the do good company that only had your interests at heart, it ingratiated itself upon people through foistware in IE by paying many freeware and some paid for software developers to bundle itself as PUP in installers. First it was for the google toolbar, then it was for both the google toolbar for IE and the installation of chrome and then just chrome when IE was no longer a viable vessel for its bundleware and mostly redundant now that it had created its own browser.

        I’m not excusing Mozilla for going down the drain either because you and I both know they did but they did so in a failed attempt to emulate Google Chrome. They sold out their community in some sort of deal with Chrome to create some sort of standard extension system that was supposed to be multi platform or so similar to chrome that porting would be easy so rather than chrome allowing a more system such as the one Firefox had mozilla buckled and watered down their extension system (probably a stipulation between google and mozilla for their financial support) instead which as we all know was and is bad now Google are trying to once again attempting to murky the water by forcing a system that from what I can see favours advertisers to replace the cookie scheme along with a manifest v3 that does largely the same as there was no reason for their to be a limits sets within manifest v3 to affect ad-blocking and various other privacy and security based extensions. This is just scratching the surface and mozilla themselves have also done enough to stifle innovation and lock out extension developers from various API’s and such to continue their extension development and or improve it to return powerful features that once made their extension and Firefox great.

        I don’t know where Opera came into play in this conversation but whilst it was never at the very top of heap it sold out too and is now worse than what it was at its peak.

        Now perhaps if Brave sacked up (I know it is a huge undertaking though) and forked the development of chromium completely and rewrote a lot of it, or made its own engine and brought in a much more powerful extension system it might be able to take the crown but I do not see that happening at all anytime soon because whilst there is a lot of underhanded bullshit going on such as the article above, lazy webmasters/developers and a bias towards googles so called web standards then it will never happen.
        Google did not buy Youtube because it was a huge money maker, they bought it to keep its firm hold on the web and support its products/branding and claw a larger audience to its brand. To be direct they bought you the viewer not Youtube.

        I’m also going to add that hardware manufacturers should be focusing on doing a lot better too rather than building bigger graphic cards that need a larger case and a nuclear reactor to run an array of larger fans and or water-cooling too keep it cool. We can’t discount the fact that they are also just plain and outright lazy and have their own bias but I would definitely not put it past google to pull some underhanded tactics either.

      5. Yash said on March 20, 2023 at 7:31 am

        I love Firefox because I can change its behaviour to anything I want and that isn’t limited to changing about:config settings to resist fingerprinting. I can’t do that in Chrome or any other chromium browser. That’s enough for me.

      6. Anonymous said on March 20, 2023 at 12:42 am

        You sound mad. Triggered much?

      7. Tom Hawack said on March 19, 2023 at 2:49 pm

        @Frankel, indeed. As well as reciprocally :

        “Truth does not wait for the number of votes” — Mahatma Gandhi, Letters to the Ashram

        Stunning how our perception of truth is correlated to that of others, minimized/denied or amplified/validated on the ground of a population. As you write it ” How can billions of flies be wrong?”. Be noted that mass manipulation relies on this correlation, that it initiates a tiny snowball, makes it slowly roll first then waits for the masses to amplify it : the snowball effect. Later on, those who don’t think by themselves but rely on “what everyone says, does” just get that snowball bigger and bigger. Et voila.

        Of course it doesn’t mean that minorities are right and majorities are wrong, but only that truth is independent of our beliefs. 1+1=2, maybe 11 for artists, but nothing else :=)

  5. 12 Aces in the deck said on March 19, 2023 at 8:06 am

    No wonder my Ungoogled Chromium outperforms Brave. This is big news. Does anyone doubt that Google and Microsoft bribed the hardware manufacturers into doing this..? This is cheating, this is manipulating performance by altering the playing field, this is LOW even by google/microsoft standards. Words cannot explain how much I hate those companies and their endless greed.

    1. FeRDNYC said on June 30, 2023 at 8:33 am

      @12 Aces: If you need a voice of dissent, then yes: I doubt that Google and Microsoft bribed the hardware manufacturers into doing this.

      For starters, what does Microsoft have to do with anything? Edge runs as msedge.exe on Windows, so Microsoft doesn’t stand to benefit anything from your conspiracy-theory favoring of chrome.exe processes.

      Second, OF COURSE video drivers use application lists, ask anyone who’s ever had to download a driver patch for a newly-released game. Nvidia, AMD, and Intel are constantly adding compatibility tweaks and optimizations for specific apps.

      They do it in response to bug reports, to crash dumps submitted and program traces unspooled. The fact that they’ve squashed FAR MORE bugs specifically against chrome.exe (when compared to browse.exe) is easily attributed to that market share all of the comments here are so obsessed with. GPU vendors would get far more feedback, telemetry, and analysis for bugs that specifically affect “chrome.exe”, and therefore they’re more likely to have successfully addressed more of those issues.

      Presumably, since Yandex is based on the Chromium codebase, the GPU-facing code in “browse.exe” is similar enough to “chrome.exe” that the same tweaks and fixes would be applicable. So it’s both smart and clever of the Yandex team to take advantage of that fact, by registering their process to the GPU drivers as “chrome.exe”. That lets them effectively draft behind Google’s oversized semi-truck of an adoption footprint (eesh, the mixed metaphors), getting the same special-case workarounds and bugfixes applied to their own processes.

      But the idea that AMD was trying to “cheat” in favor of Chrome simply because they included special-case fixes in their drivers targeting “chrome.exe” — to say nothing of the idea that Google PAID them to do so — is absurd when such tweaks are business-as-usual in the hardware driver business. Both Occam’s AND Hanlon’s Razors favor the simplest explanation that AMD applied those fixes only to “chrome.exe” specifically, simply because that’s the process an overwhelming percentage of their bug reporting/crash analysis statistics pointed to as the source of those crashes.

  6. Yash said on March 19, 2023 at 7:41 am

    Deepfake saved Yandex.

  7. John G. said on March 19, 2023 at 7:13 am

    Chrome. Always Chrome everywhere.

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