Chrome Plays Around With More GPU Acceleration
Written by Michael Larabel in Google on 10 February 2012 at 08:25 AM EST. 8 Comments
Google's Chrome web-browser is now up to version 18 beta and this latest release features greater GPU acceleration to speed-up your web-browsing experience, but there's a few caveats.

Chrome 18 Beta arrived in the testing channel yesterday for those using Google's web-browser, it was subsequently announced on the blog. Among the highlights of this latest release is GPU acceleration of the 2D canvas, 3D support for older GPUs, and other changes.

Playing around with more of the GPU from the web-browser catches some Phoronix interest, but when digging deeper, Linux users don't have as much to look forward to. The GPU hardware acceleration of the 2D HTML5 canvas with Chrome 18 Beta is only being done for Windows and Mac users... No Linux love there.

The GPU acceleration for those with older GPUs and drivers is also interesting. In these cases, Chrome is now using TransGaming's SwiftShader software rasterizer to display 3D content. We haven't heard much from TransGaming in the past few years since Cedega (their Wine gaming alternative) evaporated and they started GameTree Linux that still appears to be going nowhere.

Google isn't the only one to license SwiftShader, however, but back in 2010 the SwiftShader technology was licensed by Adobe. Adobe is using SwiftShader within Adobe Flash. TransGaming claims that their software rasterizer is "100 times faster than traditional software renderers" and "SwiftShader-based renderers can achieve performance that surpasses integrated graphics hardware."

SwiftShader supports APIs including DirectX 9.0 and OpenGL ES 2.0 while it does leverage LLVM (similar to Gallium3D's LLVMpipe) for optimizations and code generation. SwiftShader is supported by TransGaming on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. With Google and Adobe being licensees, it's more of a success than TransGaming's other past Linux initiatives.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear Google is supporting SwiftShader as a software fall-back in the Linux build of Chrome. "['OS=="win" and branding=="Chrome"', { 'defines': ['ENABLE_SWIFTSHADER'], }],"

More details on Chrome 18 Beta can also be gathered from the Chromium blog.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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