|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [Hangout-NYLXS] Apple wants direct access to your GPU through the
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Subject: [Hangout-NYLXS] Apple wants direct access to your GPU through the
internet ... what could go wrong?
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Apple seeks to position Metal as part of new 3D graphics standard for web
By Mikey Campbell
Tuesday, February 07, 2017, 07:06 pm PT (10:06 pm ET)
Apple's WebKit team on Tuesday proposed a new Community Group at the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that will focus on developing a new
standard API, perhaps based on Metal, for accelerating GPU-based 3D
graphics and general computation for the web.
Announced through Apple's WebKit blog, the new 'GPU for the Web'
Community Group will discuss a potential next-generation web graphics
API that can better leverage modern GPUs. Along with 3D content, Apple
proposes GPU architecture might also be used to accelerate general web
As noted by Dean Jackson from the WebKit team, advancements in the GPU
hardware space has led to identical enhancements in software APIs. He
cites platform technologies like Apple's Metal, Microsoft's Direct3D 12
and the Khronos Group's Vulkan as offering lower overhead, and thus
better performance, than the OpenGL standard.
Unfortunately, the new graphics APIs contain nuanced architectural
differences and are not available across all platforms, making them
unsuitable for wide implementation on the web.
"In order to expose a modern, low-level technology that can accelerate
graphics and computation, we need to design an API that can be
implemented on top of many systems," Jackson writes. "With a broader
landscape of graphics technologies, following one specific API like
OpenGL is no longer possible."
The newly created W3C group will aid in the evaluation and design of a
new web standard capable of tapping into modern GPU hardware while at
the same time operating securely across a variety of different graphics
technologies, Jackson says. The proposed API might also apply GPU
hardware to processes outside of graphical computations and should be
easy to adopt.
"It needs to be able to work well with other critical emerging web
standards like WebAssembly and WebVR," Jackson says. "And most
importantly, the standard should be developed in the open, allowing both
industry experts and the broader web community to participate."
To help get things started, Apple's WebKit team is proposing an initial
API dubbed "WebGPU." Apple began testing next-generation APIs in WebKit
"a few years ago" and found encouraging results, so the company is
sharing its WebGPU prototype with the the W3C Community Group.
According to the draft proposal, WebGPU started life as a mapping of
framework for the then-new A7 SoC. A year later, Metal made its way to
Mac as a unified OpenCL and OpenGL API.
While Metal appears to underpin Apple's initial web graphics proposal,
the company does not expect its concept to become the ultimate standard.
That said, it appears Apple is angling to take Metal cross-platform.
"We don't expect this to become the actual API that ends up in the
standard, and maybe not even the one that the Community Group decides to
start with, but we think there is a lot of value in working code,"
For those interested, Apple intends to make WebGPU assets available in
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