New MacBook Air users began reporting frequent crashing while using Google’s Chrome browser soon after the release of the machines. The issue was highlighted by Gizmodo earlier in the week when a staffer noted the problem on their own MacBook Air.
The issue does not appear to be isolated to the MacBook Air range, with the specific combination of the Intel HD 4000 chip, Mac OS X and Google Chrome being to blame. There are also reports of the new Retina MacBook Pro being affected.
Google has admitted there is a bug that was causing a graphics resource leak in Chrome, and released the following statement:
“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.”
Google has pushed out an interim update disabling the features that were causing the MacBook Air to crash, with a definitive update expected this week. The easiest temporary fix is to switch to another browser such as Safari or FireFox.