Google readies Chrome for next-gen gaming with WebGPU support
Web-based gaming is either awesome or severely lacking, depending on who you ask. The nay-sayers could have a change of heart soon, as Google just enabled WebGPU in Chrome 113 Beta.
Google, the company that ditched its game streaming service Stadia just a few years after its launch, is now pushing WebGPU, a technology which "exposes modern hardware capabilities". Broken down to its core, WebGPU allows apps and games that run in web browsers to take better advantage of graphics cards.
While gaming may make a huge leap forward, once WebGPU support becomes widely available, it may also be beneficial to other types of services, including machine learning or applications.
WebGPU is an API that is now available in Google Chrome 113 for Windows, macOS and ChromeOS. Google promises that other supported platforms will get the feature later this year. WebGPU does require Vulkan on ChromeOS and Direct3D 12 on Windows.
According to Google, "WebGPU offers access to more advanced GPU features and provides first-class support for general computations on the GPU", unlike WebGL. Developers who would like an overview of WebGPU, and how it differs from WebGL, may check out this introductory article on Mozilla Hacks.
The initial release acts as a foundation for things to come, says Google, which encourages developers to provide feedback on features that they would like to see supported.
WebGPU is a collaborative effort by the W3C. As such, it will also find its way into other browsers, most notably Firefox and Safari, which are not based on Chromium. All Chromium-based browsers will support WebGPU automatically, thanks to their shared core.
Developers and Chrome users may launch WebGPU demos, like this Forest demo, to see how their machines do. The Babylon.js website has more demos that provide code snippets and also benchmarks. Results depend on the video card but also other factors.
Much of WebGPU's success depends on developer support. All major browsers will support the technology eventually, which is a plus. Google's announcement on the Chrome Developer blog has more links to libraries that support WebGPU already or plan to support it, as well as development resources.Advertisement