Available starting with Chrome version 113, the WebGPU API allows web applications to access advanced 3D acceleration capabilities such as Direct3D 12 and Vulkan.
According to the description provided on Google’s blog, WebGPU allows developers to create games with the same level of graphics achieved before, but using much less code. At the same time, the API “more than triples the efficiency of artificial intelligence algorithms”. Announced as early as 2021, the improved AI support is all the more exciting in the context of 2023, when generative AI technologies like ChatGPT are making their way onto all sorts of sites and apps.
While WebGPU will certainly help create more sophisticated web browser games, the real stakes are AI-assisted web applications, i.e., moving the processing effort to user-owned hardware. For example, current versions of Bing Chat or Google Bard rely exclusively on remote servers, raising serious concerns about cost and carbon footprint. Meanwhile, there are millions of PCs equipped with graphics accelerators for gaming, ready to be used to accelerate AI functions in web services and applications accessed by users.
What is certain is that the API in development since 2017 is not exclusive to Chrome, with Google confirming the expansion of the implementation to operating systems such as Linux and Android. At the same time, WebGPU support will likely be added to other web browsers, such as Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.