Friday, October 22, 2010

Google Chrome 9 and GPU Acceleration

Google confirm the release 9 of Chrome will add GPU Acceleration like Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9.
Some features expected in release 8.0 will be develop in next release of BigG browser

With the release of the first versions of Chrome 7, we noticed a subtle speed increase in graphics-heavy websites and suggested that Google is improving Chrome’s overall graphics performance. Our readers later found that GPU acceleration can already be manually activated in Chrome. Google has now officially confirmed that “there’s been a lot of work going on to overhaul Chromium’s graphics system” and that the browser will “begin to take advantage of the GPU to speed up its entire drawing model.”

It is the feature that Microsoft has been promoting for several months for its upcoming IE9 beta and a feature that is about to be activated in Firefox 4 Beta (5) early next month. Browser are beginning to take advantage of the multithreading capabilities of graphics processors to speed up their 2D and 3D performance. Google said that the functionality has been integrated in the “tip-of-tree Chromium” lately and the team “figured it was time for a primer.” Google says that it will be using the GPU to “speed up its entire drawing model, including many common 2D operations such as compositing and image scaling.”

The foundation of the GPU acceleration in Chrome is a new (modified) sandbox process called the GPU process. Via this process, Chrome can take graphics commands from the renderer process and send them to OpenGL or Direct3D. This approach enabled Google to separate the rendering of a web page into different independent layers, such as CSS, images, videos, and WebGL or 2D canvases. While some layers can be rendered on the GPU already, such as WebGL, others still depend on the CPU (text, images). Google says that blending the layers again by using the CPU would have erased all GPU speed gains, so Chromium now combines the layers by using the GPU. You can try this already simply by launching Chromium with the -enable-accelerated-compositing flag switch (make launch the browser from the command line menu and use the switch as an extension. Example: C:\Users\Wolfgang\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe -enable-accelerated-compositing)

Google said that it plans on offloading more and more work onto the GPU to “achieve impressive speedups”. Details are provided in a separate document on Google’s site.

The latest Nightly Builds of Chrome (Chromium) have also been equipped with a new “labs” feature that is apparently designed to deliver experimental features. It can be accessed via an about:labs command in the URL bar and shows, in this latest version (Chromium 7.0.508.0 Build 57738) vertically organized tabs on the left side of the screen, which resembles the navigation structure of a website. It’s an interesting concept if you have a widescreen monitor that can accommodate side tabs, but it may be a rather useless feature on smartphones or even netbooks. I personally like Mozilla’s Tab Candy (Panorama) approach to organize tabs much better.