GPU acceleration + old drivers = :(

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Over the last few months, we’ve made a lot of progress using graphics hardware (commonly referred to as the GPU) to make Chrome faster and more power-efficient. However, as we’ve rolled out features like WebGL and GPU-accelerated HTML5 video, we noticed a troubling trend: users with old graphics drivers experienced a significant increase in crashes when using these features. Because stability is one of Google Chrome’s core principles, we’ve recently become stricter about requiring up-to-date drivers and graphics hardware by adding ranges of old drivers to Google Chrome’s software rendering list.

Developers should continue to ensure that the software-rendered version of their sites work properly for users without GPU-accelerated browsers, so we expect most content to continue to function normally for Google Chrome users with out-of-date drivers -- albeit, without the same performance you might expect from Chrome. WebGL content on out-of-date systems will currently not display, but we are working to provide a software path so that these systems can run basic 3D applications.

As our ability to determine whether a machine can reliably use GPU features improves, we hope to extend hardware acceleration support to more and more users. Here are some steps you can take to maximize the chances that Chrome will run fully hardware-accelerated on your computer:


  1. Use the latest major version of your operating system (such as Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.6)
  2. Install all system updates and driver updates that are available for your system.

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