Chrome helps Linux pt. 2: Cloud Graphics

Published By thechromesource Editorial Team

With Chrome, Google has been at the forefront of enhancing the capabilities of the browser and enhancing the powers of the browser. One of these areas is GPU Accelerated Drawing. Traditionally, the CPU was the only computer hardware which was utilized to render graphics in a browser, which resulted in limitations with regard to the browser’s graphics rendering. With GPU Accelerated Drawing, however, the browser is utilizing the thin client’s GPU in rendering browser graphics, greatly boasting the browser’s rendering power.

Such advances in browser technology also has benefits for Linux.

Linux doesn’t have the best reputation with regards to graphics, mainly due to the fact that that not all hardware manufacturers make Linux compatible drivers for their graphics cards and it can take considerable time before open-source drivers for those graphics cards are available. Due to its cross platform nature, OpenGL ES is a clear path for Linux to obtain video support from major chip makers and sidestep these driver issues since OpenGL standardizes the rendering API for the browser regardless of the platform. GPU Accelerated Drawing will eventually enable the browser’s graphics performance to be at a level expected from today’s demanding users.

WebGL has a ways to go before it can compete with the video performance your traditional legacy system offers; the technology still is in its beginning stages. I tried GPU Acceleration in “about:flags” on my Cr-48, and it actually slowed down the graphics performance. I tested on the Asteroids HTML5 Canvas 2D Rendering and JavaScript Benchmark experiment, and it went from a benchmark score of initially 417, when the GPU Acceleration flag was disabled to 183 when GPU Acceleration was enabled. I’m not the only one who experienced the slow down.

I remain optimistic however. WebGL technology and the like are sure to advance due to the superior development process of Open Source. It’s just a matter of time. Consider the below statement from Linus Torvalds:

“[Open Source] is superior because it’s a lot more fun and because it makes cooperation much easier (no silly NDA’s or artificial barriers to innovation like in a proprietary setting), and I think Open Source is the right thing to do the same way I believe science is better than alchemy. Like science, Open Source allows people to build on a solid base of previous knowledge, without some silly hiding. [Y]ou can obviously never do as well in a closed environment as you can with open scientific methods.”

In a ZDnet article dated June 26, 2008, an exec from the Linux Foundation is quoted as saying “The future of cloud computing and Web 2.0 application development will be built on Linux and open source.” Consider how far cloud computing has come since then. Today, we can even play Angry Birds in the browser!