Chrome 7 to Come with Accelerated Graphics Support

Paul Lilly

In a blog post on Friday, Google confirmed that it's hard at work implementing GPU acceleration into its Chrome browser, citing new APIs and markup like WebGL and 3D CSS transforms as "a major motivation for this work."

"At its core, this graphics work relies on a new process (yes, another one) called the GPU process," Google explains. "The GPU process accepts graphics commands from the renderer process and pushes them to OpenGL or Direct3D (via ANGLE). Normally, renderer processes wouldn't be able to access these APIs, so the GPU process runs in a modified sandbox. Creating a specialized process like this allows Chromium's sandbox to continue to contain as much as possible: the renderer process is still unable to access the system's graphics APIs, and the GPU process contains less logic."

Most of the common layer contents, like text and images, are still rendered on the CPU before being handed off to the compositor for the final display. But for pixel heavy content, like video layers, the GPU kicks in and performs operations like color conversion and shader scaling. And for layers containing WebGL elements, they can be fully rendered in the GPU, Google says.

For more details than you can shake a videocard at, see this separate design document . And if you want to play around with GPU acceleration now, it's available in the latest Dev and Canary builds of Chrome (Canary builds can be installed without overwriting your regular Chrome build), though you'll need to manually turn it on . To do so, right click the browser shortcut and tack on the following command in the Target field: –enable-accelerated-compositing

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