Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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WebKit adding support for GPU-accelerated 3D via WebGL

Prince McLean, AppleInsider

WebKit developers are adding support for WebGL, a new API designed to deliver hardware accelerated 3D graphics within the web browser without the use of a separate plugin.

WebKit adding support for GPU-accelerated 3D via WebGL
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According to a report posted by a developer on the Wolfire Blog, WebGL provides HTML5′s Canvas with hardware accelerated 3D rendering features by adding a JavaScript binding for OpenGL ES 2.0, enabling web developers to present 3D scenes and models that tap the full native processing power of the client’s graphics hardware.

The open, royalty-free WebGL specification is administered by the Khronos Group, the same organization that manages OpenGL and the new OpenCL API for cross-platform and GPU vender-neutral general purpose computing on GPU hardware.

Being able to render rich 3D content on the web without a proprietary, opaque binary runtime plugin such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight means that any standards-based device can be targeted by web games developers, from a desktop web browser to a mobile device like the iPhone. The technology can also be used to animate complex navigation and data visualizations.

Earlier this summer, WebKit added support for CSS 3D transforms, which allow web developers to position page elements in a 3D space. Apple rapidly added support for that feature in iPhone 2.0 and Safari 4.0.

Support for WebGL’s hardware accelerated 3D rendering is likely to be similarly exposed within desktop and mobile versions of Safari over the next few months, opening up new potential for increasingly sophisticated web apps and rich media content. A public release of WebGL is scheduled for the first half of 2010.

Google, Mozilla, Opera and various GPU hardware vendors have joined in on the industry consensus to deliver advanced 3D web graphics using open standards, building support behind the Khronos portfolio of technology specifications.

4 comments

1 macsmarts { 09.14.09 at 7:00 am }

The Chinese know that a good enough plan, implemented with discipline over a long enough period of time will win the prize. A puzzle piece snaps into place here – a while later a seemingly unrelated piece moves into place on the other side. An image begins to form while competitors flail about trying this thing and that – all for short term gain – to please short term masters.

Microsoft used to be this way, but from the beginning it’s core values and twisted self interest meant it could only go so far. It’s failure to contribute and give back was what limited it’s growth and influence.

I love watching Apple take over the role as thought and idea leader. They’ve struck the right balance between essential self interest and concerned shepard of something bigger than them. Steve’s mixture of ruthless and altruistic philosophies are what will truly advance the state of things. I just hope he has somehow created a mechanism to keep this movement going – long after he’s gone.

They’ve slowly been replaced by Apple I love watching Apple

2 Ephilei { 09.14.09 at 8:41 pm }

As much as I love Apple products, I don’t think they have the interests of anyone but themselves at heart. They’ll support an open project as long as it helps them but not a minute longer. Can you name a single action by Apple that was purely altruistic? That harmed themselves and aided consumers (and actions helping their public image don’t count).

3 SunnyGuy53 { 09.17.09 at 5:10 pm }

> Can you name a single action by Apple that was purely altruistic?

That’s not what he said. Let’s try reading it again …

> I love watching Apple take over the role as thought and idea leader.
> They’ve struck the right balance between essential self interest and
> concerned shepard [sic] of something bigger than them. …

No one, individually or collectively, can be “purely altruistic”. They
could not survive for long. What part of “balance” don’t you get?

I agree with “macsmarts” — Apple has achieved the right balance.
And it’s not simply about open source — look back at their erstwhile
decision to adopt Postscript in the LaserWriter, for example. That
choice helped to jumpstart the desktop publishing industry — which
we take for granted nowadays — and of which Apple was far from
the sole beneficiary. But they led the way.

Apple knows how to be in the right place at the right time. They are
always worth watching. Many organizations fall into the “me too”
camp — because they lack the vision, that Apple often demonstrates.

Sunny Guy

4 The Mad Hatter { 09.17.09 at 10:11 pm }

Being able to render rich 3D content on the web without a proprietary, opaque binary runtime plugin such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight means that any standards-based device can be targeted by web games developers, from a desktop web browser to a mobile device like the iPhone. The technology can also be used to animate complex navigation and data visualizations.

I can see Microsoft having a chair throwing fit over this. All of a sudden the Zune HD, the XBox 360, and Internet Exploder are less important.

And of course since this is a part of Webkit, any OS can take advantage of this. Even – Gasp – Windows.

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