The new benchmark is designed to catch a new class of browser performance problems -- and perhaps to curry favor with rival browser makers.
Benchmarks appeal to geeky types, to be sure, but they matter for everyone.
Perhaps by including rivals' computing chores in Octane, Google will have an easier time swaying them to respect Octane -- and to refrain from any criticism that Google cherry-picked tests that make Chrome look good.
How exactly should a browser maker measure that performance? Finding a benchmark is tough, since benchmarks measure different aspects of performance, and what might matter in playing Hover on the Web might not matter for recalculating spreadsheet values.
And, in Google's view, Octane has the most appropriate selection of tests.
"We believe that most other benchmarks don't stress adequately the performance bottlenecks that are worth optimizing, in order to improve everybody's experience on the Web," Google said in its Octane FAQ. "The Web has evolved and they are often not representative, not comprehensive enough or in some cases too 'game-able'" -- in other words, susceptible to cheats that give good scores despite not having good performance.