[Public WebGL] Re: webgl/swiftshader

Alvaro Segura [email protected]
Mon Feb 20 09:51:10 PST 2012

My view is that software rendering is not only welcome but even necessary.

Real world sites can't afford to use a technology that will not work for 
a large percentage of users or they will face countless complaints. A 
newspaper front page can't place a 3D object that will show an error 
message to a large number of their readers. Users of low end systems can 
understand things work suboptimally for them, but not that they don't 
work at all. They go to YouTube and expect to play videos, maybe in SD 
only or with some stutter, but they would complain if they just see a 
black screen and an error message.

Standards-based Web technology must not impose special hardware 
requirements: Javascript executes slower in slow CPUs, Canvas draws 
slower in slower CPUs with no GPU support, CSS effects work slower in 
lower end machines, video decoding is slower and may limit practical 
video resolution in slower machines withour video decoding hardware, 
etc. But they all work anyway, better or worse.

So, my opinion is: a fallback is necessary, i.e. a "better than nothing" 

In the time before programmable shaders and when 3D acceleration was 
less common, software rendering was quite ubiquitous. VRML software 
renderers perform quite well for their needs, they just work everywhere, 
but works much better on good 3D hardware.

IMO, Swiftshader is quite impressive and usable for many applications. 
Not all 3D is like Crysis. For example, I just tried GL GoogleMaps and 
it shows rendering bugs (might be solved some day) but is not too slow, 
and Google Street View works perfect, and it does not need Flash! That 
is a practical example that does not require millions of vertices.

BTW, Firefox used to allow software rendering via Mesa, but that seems 
to not work anymore (with OSMesa32.dll set in preferences, etc.). Or am 
I doing something wrong? I remember it as being too slow, though.

Best regards

El 19/02/2012 21:03, Florian Bösch escribió:
> On Sun, Feb 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM, Liam Wilson 
> <[email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>> wrote:
>     But the majority of people don't have even a mid range discrete
>     GPU. They have an integrated GPU (and if
>     http://unity3d.com/webplayer/hwstats/pages/web-2011Q3-gfxcard.html
>     is anything to go by, they don't even have a good integrated GPU).
>     Even if the do happen to have an ok GPU there is still the issue
>     of out dated drivers/missing GPU features.There's stats on
>     http://people.mozilla.org/~bjacob/gfx_features_stats/
>     <http://people.mozilla.org/%7Ebjacob/gfx_features_stats/> (again,
>     take these with a pinch of salt), only about 10% of win XP users
>     currently stand a chance of getting decent WebGL performance
>     (layers acceleration enabled).
> I guarantee you that no matter how slow the GPU, any hardware 
> acceleration, any at all that works, will be faster than software 
> rendering. Somebody who has a miserable GPU in his machine isn't gonna 
> magically pull out a high end Intel Core i7 out of their hat.
>     It's not just a matter of raw performance. Rendering only needs to
>     be fast enough to make applications usable. At a modest resolution
>     and frame rates this is entirely possible with software rendering.
>     There are far too many WebGL demos out there that attempt to
>     render 60 fps at full screen resolution. 30fps at 640x360 would be
>     perfectly good.
> That's what I said, there's a a perfectly good range of use-cases that 
> can use software rendering. If you're just gonna use simple shaders, 
> forward shading and a couple hundred triangles, you're 
> fine. Incidentally I don't do any of that really. In fact, even most 
> severely limited games render at least a couple ten thousand triangles 
> from half a dozen textures on screen at resolutions upwards of 1024x786.
> As to the matter of resolution. No, I won't like 640x360, that has 
> about the size of a dollar bill on my desktop screen. Also the iPad3 
> will have a resolution of 2048x1536 at a screen size of 25cm diagonal 
> your "ideal" 640x360 is about the size of quarter of a dollar bill, 
> already pretty close to a postage stamp. The high resolution era isn't 
> gonna halt before 3D content, and this isn't magically go away.

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