The beta version of the Chrome 18 web browser has been released with enhancements to how it handles 2D Canvas content and the inclusion of a software rasterizer.
The 2D Canvas now comes with GPU-accelerated rendering to allow games and animations built using the HTML5 Canvas tag to run faster and smoother. Most Windows and Mac users should experience this acceleration, though Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) engineers John Bauman and Brian Salomon admitted that the wide variety of hardware and operating system configurations means that this is a “tricky” area to optimize.
For users stuck with older hardware, Chrome 18 also comes with a software rasterizer called SwiftShader that Google has licensed from TransGaming, Inc. The rasterizer kicks in automatically in scenarios that Chrome’s built-in GPU acceleration doesn’t activate.
“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,” write Bauman and Salomon in the blog post.
In addition, users can type in “chrome://gpu” into the location bar to see what is being accelerated at any particular moment. Note that the above feature is not yet available for Chrome 18 beta for Linux, though they can be found on the Windows and Mac version of Chrome 18. For now, the team behind the Chrome browser says they are interested in feedback and bug reports.