Apple’s WebKit Team Proposes W3C Community Group to Strive for More Powerful Graphics on the Web

Apple's WebKit team today proposed a new Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) focused on discussing the future of 3D graphics on the web. The goal of the group is to lead to development of a new Web API that would better prepare web browsers to take advantage of modern, and future, GPU technologies on a variety of platforms.


On the WebKit blog, Apple's Dean Jackson says new software APIs "better reflect" modern GPUs, but that many of the major ones -- Direct3D 12 from Microsoft, Metal from Apple and Vulkan from Khronos Group -- aren't available on all platforms. While the success of the web requires common standards, Jackson argues, these platform-specific APIs make following a single API, like OpenGL, impossible in the future.

Instead, Apple's WebKit team is proposing that a new standard is needed. The new standard needs to provide a "core set of required features," an API that can be implemented on a variety of platforms with different system technologies, sitting on top of technologies like Direct3D, Metal and Vulkan, and the security and safety required for the Web.

While being a new open standard that's compatible with platform-specific technologies, Apple says the new standard must also be easy to to adopt, "expose the general-purpose computational functionality of modern GPUs," and work well with emerging standards like WebAssembly and WebVR.

Apple's initial proposal, which it calls an experiment, is "WebGPU." Apple says WebGPU started out as a mapping of Metal to JavaScript, and some graphics programmers are calling the proposal "Metal on the Web." Apple says it doesn't expect WebGPU to become the actual API in the new standard, but it does think there is "a lot of value" in its prototype.

Jackson says that WebGPU is much more object-oriented than WebGL, which is why Jackson says grants WebGPU its efficiencies. For instance, WebGPU handles "states" differently, reducing the work needed before a drawing operation.

The WebKit team will share its prototype with the Community Group, and is also inviting everyone with interest or experience in GPU web technologies to join the group.

Tags: WebKit, WebGPU, W3C

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