lammert - 5:08 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)
Hardware acceleration is already a number of years in use in programs like CAD programs. It is also supported by most video playback software. But often those programs are limited to a specific set of graphics cards on which they will work. With a universal free program like a browser, Google can't dictate which hardware people have to put in their computer. Instead they have to rely on their hardware detection routines to decide which activities can be safely run in the graphics processor, and which computations should be performed by the CPU. Every graphics card developer uses a proprietary GPU design, and designs and capabilities change with almost every new graphics card which is brought to the market. We are not yet in a situation that a full standardization is taking place.
Gladly the two large GPU manufacturers Nvidia and ATI have released software development kits (Cuda and ATI Stream) for their graphics systems for everyone who wants to develop GPU enabled applications. This is a sign that some stabilization is taking place on the GPU development front and that we may see more standardization in this area in the near future. This could also be the reason that Microsoft and Google are now jumping on the hardware acceleration bandwagon. It may have been too risky in the past due to the many different hardware designs, with often only partly documented features in it.