Google has announced that WebGPU, an API that gives web apps more access to your graphics card’s capabilities, will be enabled by default in Chrome 113, which is expected in about three weeks. WebGPU will be available on Windows PCs that support Direct3D 12, macOS, and ChromeOS devices that support Vulkan.
According to a blog post, WebGPU will allow developers to achieve the same level of graphics as they do now with much less code and offers “more than three times improvements in machine learning model inferences”. That last one is a real kicker: improved machine learning performance was interesting in 2021, when the feature was added to Chrome on an experimental basis, but now that we’re in the age of generative AIs and large language models, it would be even more of a boon. While services like Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing don’t really take advantage of your local hardware, there’s plenty of room for cool machine learning applications that do.
Of course, it can also let developers write better looking games for your browser. Babylon.js has quite an impressive demo you can run if you are using the Chrome Beta.
Google says this month’s release “serves as a building block for future updates and improvements,” promising “more advanced graphics features” and “deeper access to shader cores” in the future, along with improvements to how you actually develop content which runs on WebGPU.
The API has been in the works for a while. It was designed in 2017 and development for it has taken place going on since then. It’s not standard for Chrome either; in the future it should also be available in Firefox and Safari. Google says it’s working on expanding the implementation to support more operating systems, such as Linux and Android.
In other Chrome news, on Wednesday Google has announced that it will try to get future releases of the browser out the door faster. While the stable releases won’t come out sooner (and their release schedule has actually been pushed back a week), Google plans to “freeze” them later, increasing the time between when developers stop adding new stuff to the build and when it general public gets it. This should help ease the development process.