[Public WebGL] Re: webgl/swiftshader

Florian Bösch [email protected]
Mon Feb 20 10:08:18 PST 2012

On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 6:51 PM, Alvaro Segura <[email protected]>wrote:

> My view is that software rendering is not only welcome but even necessary.
It's very necessary, there's no denying that.

> 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.

That depends on what real world page you're doing. If you're writing a
WebGL game intended for gamers, and not the next article in the new york
times, your requirements differ, a lot.

> Users of low end systems can understand things work suboptimally for them,
> but not that they don't work at all.

Some things will not work, at all, with software rendering. Mainly in the
range of performance. For instance if your usecase requires 5000 triangles,
but performance is too slow you can probably scale down to 2500 triangles.
But if your usecase requires 2 million triangles, there simply isn't any
way that's gonna fit into 2500 triangles. There's similar "can simply not
scale down that much" issues around texel troughput, texture units,
extensions, vram usage, etc.

> Standards-based Web technology must not impose special hardware
> requirements:
Efficient 3D rendering unfortunately requires special hardware
requirements. Therefore that statement would have to be reminted to "WebGL
should be restricted to the capabilities of software rendering only", which
for most intend and purpose would be "no webgl at all".  Clearly that's not
a valid position.

> So, my opinion is: a fallback is necessary, i.e. a "better than nothing"
> fallback.
Yes a software fallback is nice, but it does not mean things will magically
work for everybody. They will work for some.

> 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.
Nobody uses VRML (or x3d or o3d), which proves the point that another
forward shading rasterizer and scene-graph library is what nobody wanted
the last 20 years. Thinking things like "it worked for VRML, so it's gonna
work for WebGL" is flawed.
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