This week, Google launched a new stable release for Chrome, which pre-renders pages before you're even finished typing them.
Today, Google launched a new beta version, with some graphical enhancements, which we can expect in a future stable release - specifically, improvements to 2D Canvas and a software rasterizer. Engineers John Bauman and Brian Salomon explain on the Chromium Blog:
For most Windows and Mac users, we’ve enabled GPU-accelerated rendering of 2D Canvas content, so that canvas-based games and animations run faster and feel smoother. You can go to chrome://gpu to see which features are being accelerated. This is a tricky area to optimize, due to the wide variety of hardware and operating system configurations found in the wild. We’ve made a series of small improvements to the way this acceleration works in the latest release, and we're seeking feedback on it from our Beta users. If you notice performance problems with 2D Canvas graphics content, particularly if you’re a web developer using 2D Canvas on your site, please file a bug.
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.
SwiftShader automatically kicks in for those users who cannot run content on the GPU. If you want to take a peek at what the performance is like with SwiftShader, you can use the --blacklist-accelerated-compositing and --blacklist-webgl flags, wait a few minutes for the automatic download to complete, and then load the relevant web page.
It's been a pretty big week for Chrome. Earlier in the week the beta version of Chrome for Android launched as well. This could very well be an early step towards the convergence of Google's two operating systems.