Firefox Getting GPU Acceleration, Maybe Before IE9

Last week, when Microsoft gave its preview of Internet Explorer 9 at Professional Developers Conference, it showed the upcoming browser's GPU-accelerated rendering capabilities.

President of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division Steven Sinofsky showed that IE8 can render Bing maps at 14 frames per second. With hardware acceleration in IE9 turned on, he got 60 frames per second -- impressive, indeed.

Microsoft isn't the only one thinking of leveraging GPU involvement for browser performance boosts, however, as Mozilla has been cooking up something similar in its kitchen too.

On the day of Microsoft's IE9 demo, Mozilla evangelist Chris Blizzard tweeted, "Interesting that we're doing Direct2D support in Firefox as well - I'll bet we'll ship it first. :)"

While neither Microsoft nor Mozilla have committed to any ship date for its hardware-accelerated browsers, Firefox developer Bas Schouten wrote about his work on DirectWrite and Direct2D.

"A while ago I started my investigation into Direct2D usage in firefox (see bug 527707). Since then we've made significant progress and are now able to present a Firefox browser completely rendered using Direct2D, making intensive usage of the GPU (this includes the UI, menu bars, etc.)," he wrote. "I won't be showing any screenshots, since it is not supposed to look much different. But I will be sharing some technical details, first performance indications and a test build for those of you running Windows 7 or an updated version of Vista!"

His opinion on Windows 7 aside, Schouten presented benchmarks comparing Direct2D rendering compared to Windows' Graphics Device Interface (GDI) rendering as tested on an Intel Core i7 920 system with an ATI Radeon HD 4850 GPU.

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  • I wonder how many people didn't even see the graph or read the article but just clicked on the "Zoom" button below the girl in the Firefox tank top?
    19
  • Damn, very impressive impovements on a decent processor. The effect should be magnified on weaker processors and I hope will give Netbooks with Ion a bit of surfing power.
    10
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  • Damn, very impressive impovements on a decent processor. The effect should be magnified on weaker processors and I hope will give Netbooks with Ion a bit of surfing power.
    10
  • cooldudeawesome!

    It's interesting to see that youtube didn't get a boost. Perhaps because it relies on connection speed more? It also depends on what you define as rendered; are the video loads counted toward that?
    0
  • I wonder how many people didn't even see the graph or read the article but just clicked on the "Zoom" button below the girl in the Firefox tank top?
    19