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Web Browser Chrome 94 Adds WebGPU API

Chrome 94, the next upgrade to Google’s desktop Web Browser, was released as a beta this week. The upgrade now adds support for the new WebGPU API, which replaces WebGL and can even access Apple’s Metal API, in addition to basic enhancements. WebGPU is a new, more complex graphics API for the web that can access GPU hardware, resulting in higher performance for rendering interfaces in websites and web apps, according to Google in a blog post.

WebGPU differs from existing web graphics acceleration APIs in that it is built on the device’s native technology, such as Apple’s Metal, Microsoft’s Direct3D, or the open Vulkan standard. This should make it easier for web developers to create more graphically demanding web apps and games. Metal is an Apple API that offers low-level access to GPU hardware for iOS, macOS, and tvOS apps. It was first presented in 2014.

In other words, programs may use the GPU without taxing the CPU, which is one of the drawbacks of older APIs like OpenGL. However, as The Verge points out, developers will likely need some time to incorporate the new WebGPU API into their online projects because it is currently considered an experimental feature. In addition, WebGPU isn’t scheduled to be enabled by default for all Chrome users until early 2022, according to Google.

WebCodecs, another API meant to improve the encoding and decoding of streaming videos, should be enabled for everyone in Chrome 94’s final release. The WebGPU API is currently available in Apple’s Safari Web Browser through the latest version of the Safari Technology Preview, which developers can download. Because the API is not now included in Safari 15, which ships with macOS Monterey, it will likely arrive with a subsequent Safari version in early 2022.

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