In a nutshell: If you’re one of the few people still using a PC with an x86 processor more than 15 years old, here’s another reason to upgrade: the devices will not work with future Chrome releases, starting with version 89 of the world’s most popular browser.
The Chromium development team announced that CPUs older than the Intel Core 2 Duo and AMD Athlon 64 would not work with Chrome 89 and future versions as they do not meet the new minimum instruction set requirement of SSE3 (Supplemental Streaming SIMD Extensions 3) support.
— Eric Lawrence 🎻 (@ericlaw) February 8, 2021
So, if you are still sporting an Intel Atom or Celeron M CPU, you’ll soon be counting Chrome as one of the many programs that are incompatible with your potato-like rig. The devices will no longer attempt to install the browser, while running it will result in the software crashing.
It’s noted that the change only affects Windows as Chrome OS, Android and, Mac already require SSE3 support.
Anyone still using one of the affected devices will start seeing warnings (below) in Chrome 87 about the upcoming end of support.
Google says that only a tiny number of users will be impacted negatively by the change; very few people outside of niche retro communities still use pre-2005 PC hardware. And if you do happen to love your old computer, Mozilla and Firefox remain viable browser alternatives that don’t require SSE3.