Stories about Google or Valve truly give me wood. These two companies, in my mind take the cake (the cake is not a lie) when it comes to industry innovation, openness with their software and just being a couple of bas asses. Google Chrome is my browser of choice. They have created the only hack proof browser, and deliver amazing speed and simplicity. I must admit I need to use IE or Firefox for some online applications I use, and they are not bad browsers, but since I went Chrome, I really haven’t gone back.
Google Chrome is Open Source. They are not hiding code, no secrets, they have opened the door to developers and entrepreneurs to show then what they got. And I guarantee if someone comes up with a way to make anything “Google” faster, you will be paid very nicely for it. That though gives me many interesting ideas….
Most recently Google has been toying with the idea of using users Graphics Cards (GPU – Graphics Processing Units) to help speed up web browsing. Now you may be saying to yourself, my IE is plenty fast. Well if you really believe that, I pose a question to you. What if it could be faster? Would that not blow your mind?
And to me that is what Google is really about, better, faster, stronger. You may also be asking yourself if I personally work for Google or am a Google Super Spy. I assure you I am not. I just find that with companies, especially large companies, it is hard to find that they really have the user in mind. And with companies like Google and Valve/Steam, they clearly have the user experience in mind. And they make a shit load of money doing what they do.
Below is a breakdown from Google about the idea behind using GPU power to speed up web browsing to new heights.
Traditionally, web browsers relied entirely on the CPU to render web page content. With capable GPUs becoming an integral part of even the smallest of devices and with rich media such as video and 3D graphics playing an increasingly important role to the web experience, attention has turned on finding ways to make more effective utilization of the underlying hardware to achieve better performance and power savings. There’s clear indication that getting the GPU directly involved with compositing the contents of a web page can result in very significant speedups. The largest gains are to be had from eliminating unecessary (and very slow) copies of large data, especially copies from video memory to system memory. The most obvious candidates for such optimizations are the <video> element and the WebGL canvas, both of which can generate their results in areas of memory that that CPU doesn’t have fast access to.
Delegating compositing of the page layers to the GPU provides other benefits as well. In most cases, the GPU can achieve far better efficiency than the CPU (both in terms of speed and power draw) in drawing and compositing operations that involve large numbers of pixels as the hardware is designed specifically for these types of workloads.
The link to the site that breaks this all down is really amazing. They go into depth about the inter working of CPU’s GPU’s and speed. If you want a lesson from the Giant that is Google, give it 20 minutes of your time and read through it.
Here is a link to the Chrome Blog. Within the link above employees from Google go into the Chromium Graphics Overhaul and why it is important, basically a simplified version of the earlier link that explains the inner working of page speed, and your hardware’s role in speeding things up.
If you haven’t checked out Chrome now may be the time. I have a link to Chrome, IE & Firefox on my desktop, and am always keeping my eyes open for something better to come along. Competition FTW.