I'm not sure when the changes actually landed, but Google has announced that an early implementation of hardware acceleration is now available in developer versions of Chrome 7.
Early testing suggests that performance is still worse than Internet Explorer 9, but the gap has definitely been closed a bit. The '1000 fish test' now clocks in at about 10 frames per second, which is definitely an improvement from last time -- but still some way short of IE9's 45 FPS.
The Chromium blog post says that only some content is being accelerated, so the Fish Tank might not be a fair comparison of the browsers. I'll try to find a better test or benchmark and share my findings later today. You can enable hardware acceleration in Chrome with the --enable-accelerated-compositing flag -- and if you discover anything interesting, please share your findings in the comments!
Update: you might need a nightly build of Chromium to take advantage of this hardware acceleration. It would be nice if Google could explicitly state when the changes were made...
Starting soon, you just might be able to do that. Google OS spotted a new addition to the Chromium browser: an about:labs page. Load it up, and you'll see experimental browser features which you can enable -- like side tabs on Windows and tab expose on Mac.
At least, very soon you'll be able to turn the features on via this page. Right now, it's not functional. Clicking enable on tabs on the left didn't actually activate the feature for me -- I still had to add the --enable-vertical-tabs switch to my shortcut.
The addition of about:labs is a nice touch, and will allow more users to kick the tires on cutting-edge features. That, of course, is a good thing for Google. A larger group of testers should allow them to tackle bugs more quickly and push features from the dev and canary builds to the beta and stable channels even more quickly.
The HTML5 test gives you one huge, bold number denoting your browser's HTML5 support level.
Simplicity is the key here: you just get a number. The number you see above is for Chrome Canary. Firefox 3.6.8 (my browsing workhorse) only scored 139 (and 4 bonus points).
It's important to understand that this is not a benchmark. It doesn't use any of the HTML5 features to render anything; the browser is simply asked, "do you support this?" and the site takes its word for it.
The "bonus points" come from audio/video codec support, as well as SVG and MathML for plain HTML. If that sounds like a bunch of acronyms I just stuck together, feel free to ignore it. What you should know is that the bonus is a bonus; not strictly HTML5, but stuff that usually goes along for the ride.
Another interesting aspect is that not every feature is worth one point. For example, the "Web applications" category has three tests, and is worth a total of 14 points. The "Gnolocation" group (under "Related specifications") has just one test, worth 10 points.
So the number you get isn't a count of features, but more of a weighted evaluation. Still, what's great about the site is its simplicity - it's a very easy way to convert people over to a more modern browser. Just have them point their trusty IE6 at HTML5Test, and then show them what you get on your awesome, modern browser. It's easy to understand, which is the whole point.
Ever find yourself wishing you could run two versions of Google Chrome -- like the stable version and the dev version -- side-by-side? It's been a tad tricky to do that in the past, but Google has just made things about as easy as they can possibly get -- by introducing another Chrome build.
Yes, Google is offering a Vista-esque four flavors of Chrome now -- with the release of Canary, a pseudo-dev channel build which installs to a different directory (%localappdata%\Google\Chrome SxS\ on Windows). Canary isn't linked to your Google Chrome installs at all, meaning you can also run different sync profiles, themes, and browser preferences.
Apart from the folder change, Googler Huan Ren states that Canary may also receive updates which the dev channel does not. Canary will be the most bleeding-edge official version of Chrome and somewhat of a mix between Chrome dev and the Chromium snapshot builds.
Canary's arrival has a lot to do with the new Chrome release cycle. With stable builds due out every six weeks, beta branching will occur more frequently and "risky" changes from the trunk can now be pushed to Canary prior to landing them on the Dev channel.
This also says a lot about Chrome's early adopters -- there's obviously a crapload of them if Google feels it can support two official, pre-beta builds. Download Google Chrome Canary here and run it in tandem with your current stable, beta, or dev build.
Wait a sec... "Why Canary?", you ask? I'm guessing this is a reference to the old practice of taking a canary down into a mine... If the canary died, it was unsafe and the miners knew to bail out. If a change kills Chrome Canary, they'll block it from the dev build.
A while back, Opera 10.5 briefly snatched away the speed crown from Google Chrome on my system. Chrome's been comfortably in the lead for quite some time now when it comes to performance, but that may be about to change with the arrival of Opera 10.6.
I put the newly-released Opera 10.6 snapshot build up against both the Chrome 5 beta and Chrome 6 dev channel builds, and the results were pretty astounding: Opera 10.6 posted a Peacekeeper benchmark almost 25% higher than Google Chrome 6.0.408.1 (my results here). Sebastian's numbers were a bit closer, but Opera 10.6 still won (+14%).
That's pretty substantial, and the difference is noticeable while browsing web sites and tackling my usual daily tasks in apps like Gmail, Google Reader, and Seesmic Web. Opera 10.6 appears ready to reaffirm the fact that Opera has every intention of competing with the big boys.
Maybe Opera was poking fun at more than the original Google ad. Perhaps they were dropping a not-so-subtle hint about 10.6 turning up the heat on Chrome, so to speak...