Last week Google revealed added support for hardware acceleration in an upcoming version of its Internet browser, Chrome. According to the company, web pages will be rendered in layers, some of which will be dumped into the new GPU sandbox process. Google went into even more detail about GPU accelerated compositing by providing this design doc outlining the overall process and offering a few samples.
"There's clear indication that getting the GPU directly involved with compositing the contents of a web page can result in very significant speedups," the company said. "The largest gains are to be had from eliminating unnecessary (and very slow) copies of large data, especially copies from video memory to system memory. The most obvious candidates for such optimizations are the <video> element and the WebGL canvas, both of which can generate their results in areas of memory that that CPU doesn't have fast access to."
For web surfers curious to see how Chrome handles GPU acceleration, the dev channel version of Chrome 7 is already available. To activate GPU acceleration, users supposedly need to install the dev channel browser, right-click on the icon, select properties, and add --enable-accelerated-compositing at the end of the "target" text box.
Unfortunately, most websites don't take advantage of the GPU, however testers can give Chrome's new GPU abilities a test run by checking out Microsoft’s demos for Internet Explorer 9 here. To see if the GPU is actually in use, Chrome users can type SHIFT + ESC to pull up the browser's task manager--"GPU process" should be listed.
In testing Microsoft’s FishIE Tank, Internet Explorer Platform Preview 1.9.7916.6000 rendered the scene--containing 20 fish @ 1588 x 778--at a tasty 60 FPS. Strangely enough, Chrome v7.0.503--downloaded from the dev channel link--wouldn't use the GPU flag. The browser also wouldn't accelerate the FishIE Tank at IE9 speeds, and it wouldn't even render Google's own Poster Circle demo correctly. Furthermore, the GPU didn't show up in the browser's task manager.
However, a nightly build of Chromium v7.0.510.0 (57874) actually used the provided flag. It still didn't perform well, rendering the same FistIE Tank scene--20 fish @ 1283 x 927--at up to 17 FPS. However the browser rendered the Poster Circle demo with ease 9seen to the left), and the GPU appeared in the browser's task manager.