Google announced today that it would enable WebGPU support in its Chrome browser by default starting in version 113, currently in beta. In development since 2017, WebGPU is a next-generation graphics API that aims to bring the benefits of low-overhead APIs like Microsoft’s Direct3D 12, Apple’s Metal, and Vulkan to web browsers and other apps.
WebGPU support has been available but off by default in Chrome for a while now, because the API wasn’t finalized and things could break from update to update. Google says that Mozilla and Apple will eventually support WebGPU in Firefox and Safari, and browsers like Microsoft Edge and Opera that rely on the Chromium browser engine can presumably choose to switch it on just as Google has.
Chrome 113 supports WebGPU on Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS to start, with “support for other platforms” like Linux and Android “coming later this year.” This browser version should roll out to all Chrome users sometime in May.
I’ve never really needed any advanced 3D rendering in my day-to-day browsing, but that might just be a case of the chicken and the egg.
It’s not just for 3D. Like Vulkan, WebGPU can be used as a more widely supported alternative to OpenCL or CUDA for GPU compute.
If you have something that uses GPU acceleration for something like Photoshop filters, WebGPU makes it more possible to implement it in the browser.