Chrome Gets New ‘Crankshaft’ Engine, Syncing, WebGL Support

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Google has rolled out some enhancements to its Chrome web browser, adding a new JavaScript engine, more hardware acceleration, and finalizing its system that keeps all of your copies of Chrome in sync.

The enhancements were debuted as part of a press event for Chrome OS and the Chrome Web Store here Tuesday.

The new JavaScript component is called Crankshaft, and it’s built on top of the open source V8 JavaScript engine that currently powers Chrome.

Google VP of product management Sundar Pichai says the boost makes Chrome 50 times as fast as web browsers were just two years ago when Chrome launched.

“Something that took a minute to happen in JavaScript two years ago can now happen in under a second,” he said.

We haven’t been able to verify Google’s speed claims yet (we’re still at the press event) but you can test out Crankshaft now. It’s available in the bleeding-edge Canary build of Chrome right now.

The syncing feature, which Google has had kicking around in developer and beta releases for months, offers “the same Chrome experience everywhere,” Pichai says. It syncs your bookmarks, preferences, auto-fill information and themes across all copies of Chrome, and you sync up your browsers by logging in to your Google Account. You can choose which datatypes you want to sync and which you don’t.

Also on display were the new WebGL features, which offload the most processor-intensive tasks for graphics and page rendering to the machine’s GPU. The demo featured the familiar “look at how fast the fish swim around the fish tank” method of showing off hardware acceleration, but Google added a nice touch by introducing sharks with lasers coming out of their eyes. The laser beams even refracted when they passed through the glass of the tank.

Google says Chrome 9 beta will have WebGL enabled.

Pichai also showed off some of Chrome’s other recent enhancements, like sandboxing for plug-ins.

He also said Chrome now boasts 120 million users worldwide.

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