Chrome Beta Release With Improved Hardware Acceleration

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 10, 2012
Google Chrome

Google has released the next beta version of the Chrome browser, a day after releasing Google Chrome 17 Stable. Chrome 18 Beta supports GPU accelerated 2D Canvas and 3D contents on older GPUs that were not supported by the browser until now.

The new version introduces GPU accelerated 2D Canvas on Mac and Windows versions of the browser, which according to Google should improve the performance of 2D browser apps and games using the HTML5 technology noticeably.

Chrome users can open the internal page chrome://gpu to check their computer's graphics feature status. The page lists five features and their hardware acceleration status.

chrome gpu hardware acceleration

The Swiftshader software 3D rendering technology has been licensed by Google and implemented into the Google Chrome Beta browser to improve the performance of 3D contents on older graphics processing units that do not support GPU based hardware acceleration. While not performing as well as GPU based acceleration, it should boost the performance on systems that were unsupported until now.

At the same time, we recognize that many people with older GPUs and graphics drivers have not been able to experience the rich content provided by technologies such as WebGL. Chrome is now able to display 3D content via SwiftShader, a software rasterizer we licensed from TransGaming, Inc. Although SwiftShader won’t perform as well as a real GPU, it will be an improvement for many of our users on older operating systems such as Windows XP.

The Swiftshader software rasterizer will automatically take over on systems that do not support gpu hardware acceleration. Chrome users who would like to see performance information can start the browser with the following two flags:

  • --blacklist-accelerated-compositing
  • --blacklist-webgl

Chrome will then download Swiftshader components to the computer to make them available. This can take a few minutes. Some users have even reported that the process is stuck on their system, with no option to get the components to download properly. You can remove the flags later on.

Chrome Beta users should have received the update to version 18 by now. Interested users who want to download the beta version can do so at the Beta channel over at the Google website. (via)


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