Google's Chrome 7 Gets Hardware Acceleration

By Ashok Bindra August 30, 2010

Google is improving the overall graphics performance of its Web browser Chrome 7 using GPU acceleration, which can be manually activated in Chrome. According to ConceivablyTech, Google has 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.”

Google is playing a catch-up game here with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 and Mozilla’s Firefox 4 as both the rival companies are promoting this feature for their respective web browsers.

According to ConceivablyTech reporter Garett Rogers, “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.” This report suggests that Google will be using the GPU to “speed up its entire drawing model, including many common 2D operations such as compositing and image scaling.”

As reported on the web site, 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.

In fact, as per the report, 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), explains Rogers.

According to Google, adds Rogers, 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, said Google.

Hence, Google has plans on off loading more and more work onto the GPU to “achieve impressive speedups”. More details are provided in a separate document on Google’s site.

While Chrome 5 is currently available, Chrome 6 with revamped interface is presently in the beta phase. However, Google has not confirmed release date for Chrome 6 or when Chrome 7 will move into the beta channel.

Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributor

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