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Playing games in your browser is about to get a lot better

Google has just unveiled a huge improvement for browser games — WebGPU. The new API might revolutionize the idea of playing games in the browser, and it won’t be limited to just Google Chrome.

WebGPU will give web apps more access to the graphics card, enabling new levels of performance. The API is already out, and Google seems to have big plans for it going forward.

A woman sits by a desk and plays a game on a laptop equipped with an AMD processor.
AMD

The idea of playing AAA games in the browser is still far off, but it’s possible that Google’s new tech might make browser gaming less of a strictly casual affair. The company just announced WebGPU, now available in Chrome 113 in beta. The API will soon become available to the world — once it’s out of beta, it will be enabled by default in Chrome, which is the most popular browser by far.

Google lists the benefits of the new API by saying: “WebGPU is a new web graphics API that offers significant benefits such as greatly reduced JavaScript workload for the same graphics and more than three times improvements in machine learning model inferences.”

WebGPU is said to make it easier for developers to implement GPU-based solutions in web apps. This doesn’t have to be limited to games — as mentioned by Google, machine learning apps can also benefit. While language learning models like ChatGPT, Bing Chat, and Google’s own Bard don’t really need to rely on the GPU, there are other apps that can, such as deepfake software.

Gaming is a huge thing that could stand to benefit from this, though. We might be able to see some much more complex games that run entirely in the browser, or browser ports of existing games. However, this is not going to happen overnight, and without some engagement from developers, the tech might lie there unused.

Google recognizes that this new update is only the first step toward the final end product. It promises that future updates will bring new enhancements, including improved access to shader cores. For the time being, WebGPU is only about to take its first steps, although Google has been working on it since 2017.

WebGPU certainly sounds interesting, but it’s too early to say how big of an impact it will have — Google didn’t show a demo of it just yet. For the time being, it’s available on Windows, ChromeOS, and macOS. Google plans to bring it to Safari and Firefox in the future.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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