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Google Details GPU Acceleration for Chrome 7

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 24 comments

Google is adding GPU acceleration to Chrome.

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.

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  • 21 Hide
    Omniblivion , August 30, 2010 9:42 PM
    Finally! Tom's will be able to start benchmarking 480's vs 5870's using Farmville!

    (lol?)
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    Pyroflea , August 30, 2010 9:33 PM
    Browsers are getting too advanced, imo. I don't know, I'm fine with just using my browser to... browse. I've never run into any "performance" issues with Firefox or Chrome.
  • 7 Hide
    jplarson , August 30, 2010 9:38 PM
    As hardware manufacturers are putting the GPU and CPU together on the same die, software devs are getting the discrete GPU to take some of the load off the CPU.

    Reminds me of a comic that shows two trucks full of lumber passing each other on a highway.
  • 0 Hide
    hunter315 , August 30, 2010 9:41 PM
    It works for the Canary build too but doesnt fare so well for most of the tests, hopefully they will improve its performance quite a bit before it goes live, its got potential but its a bit disappointing at the moment.
  • 21 Hide
    Omniblivion , August 30, 2010 9:42 PM
    Finally! Tom's will be able to start benchmarking 480's vs 5870's using Farmville!

    (lol?)
  • 0 Hide
    SlickyFats , August 30, 2010 9:42 PM
    Well it sounded like a good idea at first, then I got closer to the end of the article. Knowing Google they'll churn out a spectacular product by the time they are done.
    Now if they can just get a Chrome browser on my Android. (Or if I can get a Firefox, Fennec, that doesn't just FC)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 30, 2010 9:49 PM
    @slickyfats, The stock browser in Android 2.2 has some of the same guts as Chrome, mainly the Javascript engine.
  • 2 Hide
    drhenks , August 30, 2010 9:50 PM
    OmniblivionFinally! Tom's will be able to start benchmarking 480's vs 5870's using Farmville! (lol?)

    Curse you sir, curse you. But yes - lol.
  • 0 Hide
    kcorp2003 , August 30, 2010 9:54 PM
    Makes sense. We have the hardware already lets put it into use. I Can't wait to see some benchmarking :)  lol
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 30, 2010 9:59 PM
    I still haven't forgiven Chrome for "Oops, this link appears to be broken". I'm still gun shy.
  • 1 Hide
    dillyflump , August 30, 2010 11:03 PM
    OmniblivionFinally! Tom's will be able to start benchmarking 480's vs 5870's using Farmville! (lol?)


    This can allready be tested without the need of browser GPU acceleration. All of the popular facebook games utilise Adobe Flash as the prefered platform and as of release 10.4 flash has GPU render support ect. When i run firefox using flash ect a seperate executable runs handling the flash via GPU.
  • 0 Hide
    descendency , August 30, 2010 11:17 PM
    PyrofleaBrowsers are getting too advanced, imo. I don't know, I'm fine with just using my browser to... browse. I've never run into any "performance" issues with Firefox or Chrome.


    Lots of software companies want to move away from the desktop software model into a more web based software model because they see it as easier and cheaper.
  • -8 Hide
    otacon72 , August 30, 2010 11:41 PM
    Microsoft Internet Explorer 60.01%
    Firefox 24.24%
    Chrome 7.00%
    Safari 4.78%
    Opera 2.33%

    ...yeah....we can stop talking about Chrome now. It will never come close to FF let alone IE. If you know how to setup your browser properly you don't need GPU "acceleration". Just a bunch of BS anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    johnyar , August 31, 2010 1:01 AM
    The newer builds already have better performance, I get 60 fps on 1920x943 with 20 fish
  • 1 Hide
    irish_adam , August 31, 2010 1:16 AM
    otacon72Microsoft Internet Explorer 60.01% Firefox 24.24% Chrome 7.00% Safari 4.78% Opera 2.33% ...yeah....we can stop talking about Chrome now. It will never come close to FF let alone IE. If you know how to setup your browser properly you don't need GPU "acceleration". Just a bunch of BS anyway.


    i bet that thats not the same as the %'s on this site. 60% of the worl use IE because its pre-installed and they know no better, chrome is so young yet already has 7% share, no other browser has a higher adoption rate so ofcourse its going to be covered. I bet theres loads of people on this site that use chrome to browse

    and yes i am one of them
  • 0 Hide
    NeeKo , August 31, 2010 2:19 AM
    I love chrome since I installed it I ditched firefox (Used it for years) , it got too slow and crappy on time. About IE, well, what can I say , 60% of the people is simply retarded and doesnt care, the ones who pay a bit of attention or like a bit to have good things will switch immediatly.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , August 31, 2010 5:25 AM
    Wow, a new feature in Chrome? And here I thought the 7th "major" version would just be another performance increase. Oh wait, that's all this feature does...
  • 0 Hide
    nxym , August 31, 2010 8:46 AM
    nice. GPU era is starting. in the next few months, people would be using 480 gtx to use browser
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , August 31, 2010 11:49 AM
    Look what IE9 Platform Preview unleashed. A whole wave of GPU-accelerated browsers!

  • 0 Hide
    Zingam , August 31, 2010 12:21 PM
    Wow! Soon expect a flood of buggy browsers: starting with IE 9 :D 
    I wonder how long will it take to fix these new rendering engines after the initial release? 6 months - 1 year - 2 years?
  • 0 Hide
    Zingam , August 31, 2010 12:22 PM
    eddieroolzLook what IE9 Platform Preview unleashed. A whole wave of GPU-accelerated browsers!


    Actually the introduction of the new APIs that came along with DirectX 11 and Win7 have allowed that to happen.
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